For Obama, its back to basics in Afghanistan: Expert

February 11th, 2009 - 6:50 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Washington, Feb.11 (ANI): When he was not in office, Barack Obama committed himself to winning the war in Afghanistan, and now that he is the 44th President of the United States, he should ensure that he is not deterred from his mission or vision, feels South Asian expert Lisa Curtis.
Curtis, a senior research fellow in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, further goes on to say in an article that Obamas Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard C. Holbrooke shouldn”t fall prey to Pakistani regional strategic calculations that may involve calls for a greater Taliban and diminished Indian role in Afghanistan.
We cannot afford to revert to pre-Sept. 11, 2001, Afghanistan. We must judge the role of other countries in this effort on whether they”re helping to build a new and more peaceful Afghanistan, not on zero-sum strategic calculations that fuel religious extremism and violence, she emphasizes. She also says that another important aspect of U.S. diplomacy will be finding alternative supply routes into Afghanistan.
About 75 percent of supplies for NATO operations in Afghanistan currently travel through Pakistan. But an increase in attacks on these supply lines, including the recent destruction of the bridge through the Khyber Pass, demonstrate that the United States needs to secure supply lines through other countries, Curtis says.
She believes that Holbrooke has his work cut out for him as he visits South Asia this week.
It’’s time to go back to Policymaking 101: Define your objectives - and figure out what you need to achieve them, Curtis says. The year 2008, she opines was a tough one for Afghanistan. There was a 60 percent rise in Afghan civilian casualties, and the highest number of coalition forces deaths to date.
But we shouldn”t back away from the conflict, as some of Obama’’s advisers and his supporters in Congress appear to be counseling. Instead, we need a new strategy to accomplish our original, and still worthy, goal of securing the U.S. homeland from future Sept. 11, 2001, type of attacks, Curtis said. The Obama administration’’s decision to increase U.S. troop levels is an important signal to the Afghan people that the U.S. remains committed to securing their future, Curtis says, adding that the average Afghans does not support the harsh policies and violent tactics of the Taliban.
Appointing an Afghanistan-Pakistan Representative was an important step to improving U.S. diplomatic efforts in the region. A major problem over the last seven years has been the tendency of the U.S. bureaucracy to treat Afghanistan and Pakistan as separate issues. Unfortunately, this leads more to finger pointing between Afghanistan and Pakistan watchers than to genuine solutions, she concludes. (ANI)

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