Briefing on the New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

If a country has a geographic location for its troops — the Dutch and Australians in Uruzgan, the Germans in Mazar-e-Sharif, the Italians in Herat — wouldn’t it make more sense for their aid to be focused in that area, too? We’re going to concentrate on the south and east. We are also going to focus much, not all of our aid in that area.

And so we’re — we need somebody working only on that issue, just on that issue, because it’s so important. You’ve all reported on the lack of coordination among the international — now, the U.N. has a central role in all this and will be very — the U.N. is hosting the conference in The Hague that Michelle mentioned earlier, and that needs to be underscored. The Secretary General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, will open it; Kai Eide will preside.

So I’m glad you raised that issue.

Q Thank you very much. With all of the consultations you did, there must have been some very attractive ideas that just didn’t fit in the strategy today. So are there things that you have in your notebook to look at in coming months that you may adopt? And if so, what are they? And more broadly speaking, on the continuum from doing nothing to trying to create a Central Asian Valhalla, where does this strategy fit: maximum, minimal, or just right in the middle?

MR. RIEDEL: I have never understood what the Valhalla thing was about, so I’m going to stay away from that. (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Which province is that in? (Laughter.)

MR. RIEDEL: I would say that this strategy is focused on a concise goal, and I think the President made that very clear. And it’s a goal that is about protecting American citizens and American interests. From that there are a series of objectives. But from the beginning of this process and in every conversation I had with the President about this, he kept coming back to, let’s keep the focus clear on what the goal is.

As for what’s in my notebooks and Michelle’s notebooks and Richard’s notebooks, I’m sure there are lots of good ideas in there and we’re going to come back to this. As I said at the beginning, this is a road map. It will now be followed up by days, weeks, months of detailed implementation plans as we try to put this together in a way that can be executed and bring success.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: May I just expand on that for those of you who are interested in process. I know Washington loves to talk about process. We began with a very wide range of ideas. One of the goals of this project was to form a common consensus, a base, for people who have to implement policy. So you’re quite right that there were hundreds of ideas thrown out.

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