Obama's strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan
The President's plan for the increasingly troubled region is ambitious, although his goals are more limited than Bush's.
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Announcement of the anticipated plan is the result of a two-month inter-agency review that consulted military, diplomatic and civilian development officials and experts as well as the leaders of the two principle countries involved and NATO partners. It paves the way for discussing the new strategy with international partners next week.Skip to next paragraph
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Secretary Clinton will attend an international conference on Afghanistan in The Hague next Tuesday armed with the new strategy. Subsequently, Obama will take it up with NATO leaders when he attends the Alliance's 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg, France, next Friday. Those two events will permit Obama to underscore his point that the challenge presented by Afghanistan and Pakistan "is not simply an American problem -- far from it -- [but] is instead an international security challenge of the highest order."
To support that position, Obama reminded the foreign ambassadors who attended the strategy unveiling that terrorist attacks in London, Bali, North Africa, and Kabul and Islamabad have been linked to "Al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan."
Situation in the region deteriorating
The new strategy reflects concerns that surfaced even before the new administration took office that the situation in both Afghanistan and Pakistan was rapidly deteriorating, in part because the US and Allied presence in Afghanistan lacked a clear objective. Dispatched during the transition between administrations to the region, Vice-President Joe Biden returned to Washington "very worried" about the absence among US troops and officials of a clear idea of what they were doing, administration officials say.
"When this administration came into office we found a policy adrift and a lack of focus on the central challenge," says Denis McDonough, White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
The administration says the new strategy narrows the focus of US involvement to Al Qaeda.
History of foreign occupation