January 29th, 2009
06:00 PM ET
9 years ago

Holbrooke to travel to South Asia

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/29/art.holbrooke0129.gi.jpg caption="Richard Holbrooke is headed to Afghanistan and Pakistan at the same time that the Obama administration is undertaking a review of U.S. policy on Afghanistan."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Richard Holbrooke, the administration's new envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan will make his first trip to the region next week, the State Department said Thursday.

Holbrooke will travel to South Asia after attending a security conference in Munich, Germany, acting department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.

Although his schedule was not set, he was expected to travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was unclear whether he would travel to neighboring India, which is still engaged in a tense standoff with Pakistan after the December terror attacks in Mumbai.

Wood said that Holbrooke will "touch base with various leaders in the region, and also to hear what they have to say in terms of what needs to be done to improve the situation."

Holbrooke's trip comes as the the administration is undertaking a review of its policy toward Afghanistan. President Obama has called Afghanistan the "central front" in the war on terror and has promised to make fighting extremism there, and in neighboring Pakistan, a foreign policy priority. He is expected to send as many as 30,000 additional U.S. troops to battle Taliban forces.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised a boost in the U.S. civilian presence and development in the country to complement the increased U.S. military presence.

She also said in her confirmation hearing the Obama administration would be looking to NATO allies to share more of the burden and would put increased pressure on the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to root out rampant corruption and establish rule of law throughout the country.

With a poor security situation hampering development and political reforms, the administration and members of Congress are now trying to manage expectations as to what the U.S. can accomplish in Afghanistan.

Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned that the U.S. risks getting bogged down in a quagmire in Afghanistan, making comparisons to the U.S. war in Vietnam.

Kerry warned last week of the enormity of the challenge in trying to stabilize Afghanistan, saying there was no coherent objective of what to achieve in such a complex country. While the original goal of the war in Afghanistan was to "take on al Qaeda ... it was not to adopt the 51st state of the United States."

"I think unless we rethink this very, very carefully, we could raise the stakes, invest America's reputation in a greater way as well as our treasure and wind up pursuing a policy that is, frankly, unpursuable, unachievable," he said during Clinton's confirmation hearing.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has echoed those sentiments, telling a Congressional hearing the United States must set priorities in Afghanistan.

"If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose," he said, "because nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience and money, to be honest.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Pakistan • President Obama
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. EC

    We wish you God-speed. We support your efforts Sir.

    January 29, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  2. Polly

    Apparently, since 911 at least one Al-Qaeda member has been released from Gual. Bay and is again leading supporters in Yemen. Why?

    January 29, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Great men accomplish great results, Great diplomats , rise to the times.

    GOOD BY to the false achievements and stagnation of the era of Henry Kissinger ,
    and the legacy of NEO CONS .

    January 29, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  4. Holbrook is great

    this man can move this problem towards a sustainable solution if any one can

    January 29, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  5. Greg Hodges

    I know most Americans have little idea of what has been going on in Afghanistan over the last 5-6 years; since the Bush administration took it`s eyes off the true 9/11 terrorist ball and went on it`s little Iraq misadventure. While a small number of American and Canadian troops (YES CANADIAN) have been keeping the Taliban from once again seizing control of that poor backward nation; billions were spent in trying to create the NEW Middle East in Iraq. If the money and troops diverted to this fiasco had been focused on the Pakistan and Afghan border region the world (and U.S. economy) would be in far better shape today. Who knows; Bin Laden and his thugs might have even been hunted down by now.

    January 29, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |