For several months, the Obama Administration has been rethinking American policy, hoping to depart from this history of dysfunction. It has announced a formal strategy: an adaptive counterinsurgency doctrine that seeks to emphasize the security and the prosperity of the Afghan and Pakistani people above all; economic and development aid; vigorous diplomacy; and carefully targeted warfare, particularly aimed at Al Qaeda. Already, however, Obama and his advisers have had to confront the puzzle of which policies in their new portfolio will promote stability in the region, and which will promote instability...“A key aspect to the new strategy is to put more attention and resources toward Pakistan’s economic and governance challenges,” Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special envoy to the region, told Congress last week. Yet Pakistan’s prideful insistence on its sovereignty means, among other things, that the United States cannot provide relief directly to internally displaced civilians. Their fate will now depend on Pakistan’s fragile and unpopular government, with support from charities and the United Nations; the Obama Administration must stand in the rear, urgently working its bellows.
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