News / USA

Obama: Progress in Afghanistan, But Gains Fragile

President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the White House Dec. 16, 2010, on the the Afghanistan-Pakistan Annual Review. From left are, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Vice President Joe Biden, the president, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,
President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the White House Dec. 16, 2010, on the the Afghanistan-Pakistan Annual Review. From left are, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Vice President Joe Biden, the president, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,

In the review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan he announced on Thursday, President Barack Obama pointed to progress in Afghanistan, and cooperative efforts with neighboring Pakistan, in the fight against al-Qaida and its extremist allies.

In the 24 hours before the formal release of the review, Obama spoke with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari about the report's findings and future steps.

Obama said the United States and its partners are "on track" to achieve their goals, and he presented a broad picture for America's military presence in Afghanistan. "We are focused on disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and preventing its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future," he said.

The president said the goal is not to defeat "every last threat" to Afghanistan's security or to conduct nation-building. It is up to the people of Afghanistan, he said, to secure their country.
Many of the questions reporters directed at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and military Joints Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman General James Cartwright had to do with Pakistan.

Pointing to what she called broad military and civilian engagement with Pakistan, Clinton said cooperation has led to "tangible results on the ground."  "They moved 140,00 troops off the Indian border. They waged an ongoing conflict against their enemies who happen also to be the allies of our enemies.  They began tor recognize what we see as a mortal threat to Pakistan's long-term sovereignty and authority.  That was not something that was predicted two years ago that they would do.  They have done it," she said.

From the president on down, Clinton said the United States maintains constant communications with a range of Pakistani leaders.  She said the U.S. goal is to help Pakistan's government demonstrate that it can deliver results to its people.

One reporter asked whether it is fair to conclude from the review that the initial U.S. troop drawdown President Obama wants to begin next year, based on conditions on the ground, would be modest.

Secretary Gates said the "path out" of major military involvement for the United States and its allies is to stop and reverse Taliban momentum, de-grade Taliban capabilities and deny the group control of major population centers, while building Afghan government capabilities.

He addressed the question of the size and scope of a U.S. drawdown beginning next July. "In terms of what that line looks like, beyond July 2011, I think the answer is we don't know at this point.  But the hope is that as we progress that those drawdowns will be able to accelerate," he said.

Gates, Clinton, and Marine Corps General James Cartwright also addressed questions about the effectiveness of the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Clinton said counter-terrorism successes are part of the overall effort and cannot be separated when assessing outcomes. General Cartwright said both strategies have and will continue to be important in dealing with the insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "We have the advantage in Afghanistan of having boots on the ground, so that we can actually defeat rather than just disrupt.  We have to get that kind of capability as we look toward Pakistan.  That has to be done in partnership with Pakistan.  It doesn't mean you have to have American boots on the ground, but you need both," she said.

Cartwright said a key question is whether a counter-insurgency strategy can deliver an enduring peace going forward.

Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton stressed the degree to which the historic flooding in Pakistan has made things more difficult for the government in Islamabad to respond, and placed pressure on Pakistan's military.

Related report by Ravi Khanna:

Asked how the United States plans to press for more Pakistani cooperation in tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, Gates said Pakistan has indicated willingness to move into other areas, in addition to south Waziristan and the Swat Valley.

He said Washington has long wanted Pakistan to have a stronger presence on the border, adding that signs point in a positive direction where Pakistan's relationship with the United States is concerned. "The relationship that we have with them and the more confident they are that we have a long-term relationship in mind with Pakistan, then I think the more willing they are going to be to take actions that serve both our interests," he said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs avoided the question of what the review concludes and President Obama impressions about whether Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai is a reliable partner.

Pointing to the review's findings, Gibbs described "civilian capacity at a number of different levels" as one of the challenges that needs to be addressed.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid