Clueless in Kandahar

Helping Af, helpless on Pak

Let’s be fair to Richard Holbrooke. He could not have pre-empted an upcoming announcement of benchmarks of success that the Obama administration has set for its Af-Pak policy. That’s why when asked how success will be measured, he could only say “We’ll know it when we see it”. Yes, he did get some flak for that.

In all likelihood, we’ll get some benchmarks in the coming weeks. But one thing is clear: the “limited set of objectives” President Obama promised have effectively become “the expansive goals of “armed state building”.” So there’s a lot of soul-searching among the United States’ allies on why they are in Afghanistan and what they are doing there.

The opportunity cost of the debate over “What we’re doing in Afghanistan” is brought out by Sam Roggeveen over at the excellent Lowy Interpreter:

It’s all a reminder that the real danger (nuclear terrorism) is in Pakistan, and although there’s no obvious solution anyone can offer to that country’s problems, that does not excuse the fact that we are throwing so many resources at the wrong problem.

It’s said that when a drunk drops his keys, he looks for it under the lamp-post, because that’s where the light is better. Time to sober up. [TLI]