When he took power in January, President Obama seemed to have boundless enthusiasm for continuing and escalating the war in Afghanistan, spreading it into Pakistan, throwing more troops and money at it as the whims struck him.
Nine months later, he’s seen as hesitant to approve another massive escalation, or at the very least looking for an opportune moment politically to do so. It’s not hard to see why: the war is increasingly unpopular at home, and his previous escalations have yielded nothing but rising violence.
That’s yielding some growing disquiet among members of the faltering Afghan government, not to mention Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi, who is visiting the US at the moment. Obama and his staff are thus feverishly working to reassure these people that the massive US occupation force and billions in US aid dollars aren’t going anywhere.
In Pakistan this is even more complicated, as the administration is trying to balance reassuring America’s eternal dedication to propping up the near bankrupt government while at the same time facing growing concerns about the enormous level of influence they now wield in the region. Many of the meetings Qureshi has been involved in of late appear designed to convince the Pakistani government to accept billions of American dollars, and the many strings that doubtless go along with it.