Wednesday, November 18, 2009

# Posted 5:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

Every time Mr. Obama declares that the United States will not have an “open-ended” military commitment in Afghanistan, he fuels a second concern of the powerful Pakistani military and intelligence establishment, which believes the United States commitment is fleeting.

It is a concern that some of them say justifies Pakistan’s continuing ties to the militants who fight American troops in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared to fuel this concern on Sunday in her comments on the ABC program “This Week,” saying: “We’re not interested in staying in Afghanistan. We have no long-term stake there. We want that to be made very clear.”
I was listening to the program and I was pretty surprised when Hillary said that. It sounded more like an improvisation than a well-prepped talking point. But it illustrates the confusion at the heart of Obama's policy. The White House wants to demonstrate resolve while being sure it has an "off-ramp" for its commitment. When delivering that kind of confused message, even the best talkers will slip up.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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