Sunday, April 26, 2009

U.S. Policy Notes: Pakistan and on Special Envoys

Pakistan: It's not clear what is happening in Pakistan. So far it seems like a small-scale advance by the Taliban. Pakistan is a country with a huge extremely diverse population which includes a lot of friction and competing groups. There are Sunni and Shia, different ethnic communities, and regions where politics are pretty local. I doubt the Taliban is about to take over.

Obama's special envoys: So far they haven't achieved anything. An envoy is only good, it seems to me, to conduct an existing negotiation which has a chance of success, thus to deal with diplomats over details and very intensely.

This system seems pretty unwieldy and I wonder if it will last into next year.

I assume Mitchell is just filling in for a few more months on Arab-Israeli issues and will resign before next year.

Dennis Ross, on Iran, seems to be functioning more like a State Department official than as an independent envoy so it seems he is coordinating closely with Secretary of State Clinton.

It isn't quite clear whether Richard Holbrooke is getting anything done in Afghanistan-Pakistan. If the crisis blows up I assume Clinton and the White House will have to step in fast

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