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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid