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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs