News / USA

US Official Sees Benefits, Challenges to bin Laden's Death

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy

A senior U.S. defense official has made the first on-the-record comments from the department about the implications of Osama bin Laden's death.  The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy, said Thursday it could spur reconciliation in Afghanistan, but also poses new challenges for U.S.-Pakistan relations.  

Under Secretary Flournoy found herself in the interesting position on Monday of hosting long-scheduled U.S.-Pakistan security consultations.  It was just about 15 hours after President Barack Obama had announced that bin Laden was killed by American commandos in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.  She says she had a specific message for the Pakistanis in that meeting.

"What we’ve been stressing in our conversations is the importance of strengthening our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan, and moving forward in a way in which that cooperation is visible and concrete and undeniable," she said.

Speaking to a small group of reporters at the Washington offices of the Aspen Institute onThursday, Flournoy said that "many steps" are needed, including help interpreting the information from bin Laden’s compound, cooperation on ways to put pressure on al-Qaida, and efforts to improve stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

She said she had "candid" conversations with the Pakistani officials about those steps and the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations.  Flournoy said new Pakistani moves are particularly important to ensure funding to continue bilateral cooperation.

"I do think that Congress will have to be convinced to sustain both civilian and military assistance to Pakistan," she said.

That situation was on display at about the same time across town, during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The chairman, Democrat John Kerry, asked some questions that many members of Congress have been asking.

"What did Pakistan’s military and intelligence services know?  What is appropriate to think they should have known?  Who did they think was living behind those 15-foot [4.57-meter] walls?, he said.

Flournoy says there is "no definitive evidence" that Pakistani officials knew the al-Qaida leader was hiding in a town populated largely by retired military officers.  But she says the large volume of material taken from bin Laden's compound might prove otherwise.  

She also says the Obama administration believes it is important to continue America's partnership with Pakistan in the war on terror, despite concerns about bin Laden’s hideout and other issues, including the sometimes questionable activities of Pakistan's intelligence service.

Senator Kerry expressed a similar view, as did the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar.

"We must admit [that] Pakistan is not an easy partner.  But distancing ourselves from Pakistan would be unwise and extremely dangerous," he said.

Lugar said a break in relations with Pakistan would not only hurt  the war on terror, but also would weaken intelligence gathering, increase the danger of a Pakistan-India conflict, end U.S. involvement in helping to secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and make U.S. military operations in Afghanistan more difficult.

At the Aspen Institute, Under Secretary Flournoy said bin Laden’s death could hasten the end of the conflict in Afghanistan.

"I think now that Osama bin Laden is dead, some of the personal relationships that connected senior Taliban leaders to him, that tie is broken.  And I think that creates an opportunity for them to step forward and renounce al-Qaida and their affiliation with it," Flournoy said.

Flournoy said bin Laden’s death "dealt a very severe blow to al-Qaida," and that she hopes more Taliban leaders will accept Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s terms and join the reconciliation process.  Some members of Congress say the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, set to begin in July, should be accelerated.  But the Obama administration says the speed of the drawdown must still be based on the amount of progress made toward stability.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
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.
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.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid