The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

About Those Af-Pak Questions

To gaze in one’s own navel: I said earlier I’d be listening to Obama’s Af-Pak speech for answers to four questions, like this was Passover or something. So what

Iram Martins
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Mar 27, 2009

To gaze in one’s own navel: I said earlier I’d be listening to Obama’s Af-Pak speech for answers to four questions, like this was Passover or something. So what about those answers?

1. Will Obama give an exit strategy, an endpoint — if not necessarily a date — for when the mission is accomplished?

Answer: No. Saying you’ll “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” al-Qaeda is about the furthest thing from an endpoint as could be. What does it mean?

2. Will Obama say how we’ll know if his strategy is working or failing, and if so, how will he report it to Congress?

Answer: There was a lot of talk of benchmarks for Af-Pak strategy in the speech, where none before have existed. Check out Matthew Yglesias for more on that. And while this is more a promise than a plan, here’s what Obama said:

Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable. We’ll consistently assess our efforts to train Afghan security forces and our progress in combating insurgents. We will measure the growth of Afghanistan’s economy, and its illicit narcotics production. And we will review whether we are using the right tools and tactics to make progress towards accomplishing our goals.

I’m unsure about what reporting requirements Congress will add, but maybe that’s in the Pakistan bills he mentioned.

3. Will Obama make an argument for why the mission is in the national interest, and worth the sacrifice?

Answer: Most definitely. Simply put, preventing future attacks on the U.S. requires an increased commitment in Af-Pak. There’s sort of too much to summarize easily, but here’s a good excerpt:

Al Qaeda and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban — or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged — that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.

4. Will Obama talk about what meaningful pressure he’ll put the Pakistani government to increase its counterinsurgency capability so the United States doesn’t invade western Pakistan, but will allow it to eliminate the safe havens for jihadists in the Pakistani tribal areas?

Answer: It’s a judgment call. He made a point of saying the aid he’s giving is “not a blank check.” And there were a few sentences about U.S. expectations of the Pakistanis:

Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders. And we will insist that action be taken — one way or another — when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets.

Still, nothing in that or in other sections of the speech placed an affirmative burden on Pakistan when it comes to bolstered aid. Maybe that’ll be in the forthcoming bills.

Iram Martins | Personal trainer. Aspiring sommelier. Brunch critic who works part-time. When I'm not competing, you'll find me at dog beaches with my black lab or sipping drinks at the best bars in town. I like to fly a lot.

Related

$1.89 billion given to states to fight HIV

The federal government Monday announced more than $1.89 billion in funding to states to fight the HIV epidemic with access to care and with more cash for the failing AIDS Drug Assistance Program. According to an HHS press release , $813 million of that money will go directly to the ADAP programming. An additional $8,386,340 will be issued as a supplement to 36 states and territories currently facing a litany of unmet needs and access issues.

Army Data Shows Constraints on Troop Increase Potential

If President Obama orders an additional 30,000 to 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, he will be deploying practically every available U.S. Army brigade to war, leaving few units in reserve in case of an unforeseen emergency and further stressing a force that has seen repeated combat deployments since 2002.

1. Brian Schweitzer

As governor of Montana, Schweitzer doesn’t represent one of the most highly populated, high-profile electoral states in the country. But this

$1.3 Million for Brown

The GOP’s candidate in the Massachusetts special election raised more than one million dollars -- double the goal -- in a 24-hour moneybomb on the Ron Paul

$1.3 trillion in federal spending unaccounted for, report finds

Despite calls for independent bodies to keep government accountable, the Sunlight Foundation’s most recent Clearspending report has found the federal

#1 in Conspiracy Theories

Andrew Young’s tell-all biography of John Edwards, hitting shelves next week, is surging in one Amazon.com category in particular. #1 in Conspiracy

1 Brigade and 1 Battalion

ISTANBUL – It’s 10 p.m. in the lowest level of the Istanbul airport. In 20 minutes I’ll be allowed to board my plane to Kabul, bringing me to the

$1 Million for Toomey

Pat Toomey, the former Club for Growth president and leading Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Senate race, has announced a $1 million haul in the

1. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Graham (R-S.C.) is typically regarded as a reliable vote for his party, but he took the bold step of breaking with his fellow Republicans to join Kerry

Bachmann uncomfortable over earmarks ban

Republicans appear to have boxed themselves into a corner with their portrayal of earmarks as wasteful spending, as many of them have backed a moratorium on

Troubled mine holds hope for U.S. rare earth industry

China currently controls 97 percent of the world’s rare earth production. The Mountain Pass Mine could change that -- if it can overcome serious environmental concerns.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy | twi.news@washingtonindependent.com