Briefing on the New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan - Page 11 of 13

Briefing on the New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

The emphasis in agriculture emerged from our dialogue. The realization that the drug and narcotic program was not working, which was not the view we inherited, emerged from study involving a lot of agencies, and by the way is not universally agreed to. You’ll be able to find plenty of people in the government who don’t agree with what Bruce and Michelle and I have said about drugs. But that’s the direction that we took it.

Of course there are ideas we didn’t use. Some of them were just — by the way, we’ve got thousands of ideas from citizens all over the country, and many other governments made inputs — Pakistan and Afghanistan, first of all; all our NATO allies; Australia; Japan. They all came to Washington and we talked to them. We have — we have mounds of paper. And out of this, there was a consensus. Here was the dilemma: How do we avoid the consensus becoming watered-down conventional wisdom, which in my experience in this city is what usually happens.

The way I think we’ve avoided it is that this is a not a straitjacket, a detailed blueprint. It’s a framework within which there’s plenty of flexibility to bring in ideas which are not in the report. One of the most important ideas in this report — which is new for this country but has been done in many other wars, including Iraq — is the information issue. We can — in Swat, for example, there are about 150 illegal FM radio stations, and Fazlullah is going around every night broadcasting the names of people they’re going to behead or they’ve beheaded. Any of you who have a sense of recent history know that that’s exactly what happened with Radio Mille Collines in Rwanda, and the United States did nothing, to our eternal regret.

And nothing has been done so far about that. These are unimpeded. We have identified the information issue — sometimes called psychological operations or strategic communication; used to have different names in the old days — as a major, major gap to be filled. Senator Kerry is pushing this very hard from the Senate side. So this is the kind of thing that emerged from our discussions.

Q Thank you. When you talk about comprehensive strategy and consulting with allies in the region and elsewhere, does this include the Saudis? Because there was talk about they might play a mediation between the so-called moderate Taliban. And if you have been in consultation with them, and whether it’s going to be effective actually, talking to them?