An Af-Pak Report Card

December 16, 2010 By Melissa Silverman

This morning, the Administration released a progress report on Afghanistan and Pakistan and clearly pointed out the importance of civilian power, stating “the denial of extremist safe havens cannot be achieved through military means alone, but must continue to be advanced by effective development strategies.”  For Afghanistan, the review notes, “U.S. civilian and military integration has significantly improved, with coordinated efforts now occurring at every level.”  And in Pakistan, “Civilian assistance increased with more aid flowing through Pakistani institutions.”  Also yesterday, Secretary Clinton unveiled the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.  Make sure you check out our “cliff notes” on the QDDR.

Must Reads

USGLC In the News

Hillary Clinton’s vision for foreign policy on a tight budget (Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor) Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday unveiled a foreign-policy road map for the 21st century, which elevates the role of development in pursuing national security and envisions a civilian lead in addressing the rising challenges associated with fragile and failed states. The revision and reorganization of US diplomatic and development strategies have been eagerly awaited by nongovernmental development groups and other private organizations and were generally received with positive appraisals. “The QDDR represents a bold step toward implementing a smart-power foreign policy by elevating our civilian power and ensuring effective, results-driven programs,” says Liz Schrayer, executive director of the US Global Leadership Coalition.

Smart Power

State Dept. review calls for emphasis on averting global crises (Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced an overhaul of the State Department’s bureaucracy Wednesday, pledging to focus more on conflict prevention and elevate the roles of U.S. ambassadors in coordinating the work of all U.S. agencies working abroad. Clinton’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) was two years in the making. It is intended to elevate “civilian power” at a time when the U.S. military has played a growing role in nation-building.

Clinton launches reform of US diplomacy (AFP)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday launched a reform of US diplomacy that will turn ambassadors into corporate-like CEOs tasked with helping a country develop and avoid armed conflict. Wary of Republican calls for cost-cutting, Clinton promised that the reforms at the State Department and the US Agency for International Development, USAID, seek to “minimize costs and maximize impacts, avoid overlap and duplication.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

Robert Gates backs omnibus spending bill (David Rodgers, Politico)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates threw his support Wednesday behind the Senate’s omnibus spending bill, saying it would be far better for the military than subjecting the Pentagon to a yearlong continuing resolution passed by the House last week.The endorsement was striking both for the strength of Gates’ wording and the fact that he entirely skipped over his ongoing dispute with the Senate Appropriations Committee over a second alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Conditions Hit New Low for Red Cross (Alissa Rubin, New York Times)

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which usually seeks to avoid the public eye, held a rare news conference here on Wednesday to express deep concern that Afghanistan security had deteriorated to its worst point since the overthrow of the Taliban nine years ago and was preventing aid groups from reaching victims of conflict.

US: Afghan War Review Shows ‘Fragile, Reversible’ Progress (Voice of America)

A new U.S. government review of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan shows progress against insurgents, but that these security gains remain “fragile and reversible.”The review, set to be formally released Thursday, says U.S. strategy will continue to focus on defeating al-Qaida and the Taliban. The momentum of both Taliban and al-Qaida fighters has been weakened, according to the review, despite continued planning of large-scale attacks on the Western targets.

Opinion: Could there be a Tet Offensive in Afghanistan? (George Will, Washington Post)

The difference between planning and accomplishing in war is on many minds as the Obama administration reviews progress, such as it has been, in Afghanistan in the 54 weeks since the president simultaneously announced the surge and a July 2011 beginning of “the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan.” Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, was recently asked (on ABC’s “This Week”) to assess progress there. He responded with minimalist optimism: There has been “localized improvement” in “certain areas.”