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Secretary Clinton Ties New Strategy to Stated Afghan Desires

At today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton defended the strategy as being responsive to a desire expressed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in his inaugural address to take more responsibility for security. “His words were long in coming, but they were welcome,” Clinton said. “We think a timeframe for such a transition will provide a sense of urgency to the Afghan government.” Her testimony is meant to overcome concerns, both in Afghanistan and on the right in the United States, that the July 2011 timeframe for beginning the security transition is unwise. Instead, Clinton is saying, it’s responsive to Afghan concerns. Subtext: what, you want us to act like occupiers?

She defended the civilian surge, 900 strong, as the best of the best civilians deployed to support the war. “We will be delivering high-impact assistance and bolstering the agricultural sector,” she said. “We will also support an Afghan-led effort” at reintegrating Taliban who come into the cold. “All Afghans should have the choice” to build Afghanistan “if they do so peacefully.”

On Pakistan, Clinton repeatedly emphasized “democratic” and “civilian” rule while pledging “we wish to be [Pakistan's] partner for the long term.” Message: the United States will accept whatever civilian elected government the Pakistanis desire. But it won’t accept another military coup.

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