During the Obama administration's review of its Afghan policy, Vice President Joe Biden was a fierce advocate for a narrowly focused counterterrorism strategy.
He had long been skeptical of the more expansive counterinsurgency approach with 30,000 additional troops ultimately decided upon by the president, arguing that pursuing al Qaeda targets in Pakistan and on the Afghan border was a smarter way to go.
Like any good second-in-command who has been overruled, Biden got on board with the president's new direction. Still, he has been openly critical of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's lackluster efforts to tackle corruption and has questioned his credibility as a partner. FULL POST
CNN’s Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty and CNN Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott recently returned from Afghanistan, where they traveled the country embedded with U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan, part of the Obama administration's civilian "surge." This is part of the series, "The Other Afghan Offensive."
The stereotype of women in Afghanistan is that they are oppressed. Invisible. Unable to contribute to society.
Many of the women we came across while traveling the country defied these labels. FULL POST
The Obama administration is putting the final touches on a security assistance package totaling as much as $2 billion over five years to help Pakistan fight extremists on its border with Afghanistan, senior U.S. officials and diplomatic sources tell CNN.
The aid is expected to be announced later this week when Pakistani officials are in Washington to hold high-level talks.
The package aims to address Pakistan's insistence it does not have the capability to go after terrorists, and needs more support from the United States, the sources said. The aid will help the Pakistanis purchase helicopters, weapons systems and equipment to intercept communications.
Editor's note: Since becoming State Department producer in 2000, Elise Labott has covered four secretaries of state and reported from more than 50 countries. Before joining CNN, she covered the United Nations. Follow her on Twitter at @eliselabottcnn.
The death this month of British aid worker Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan and the subsequent discussion about aid worker safety have fueled a row between the United States and nongovernmental organizations about how to deliver aid and do development work in conflict zones like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Concerned a ban on security contractors in Afghanistan will curtail the efforts of development workers, the State Department is feverishly negotiating with the Afghan government about a set of conditions that will allow private security details to operate in the country, senior U.S. officials told CNN. FULL POST
Obama Administration sources say the U.S. is undergoing a gut-check about how to approach the Afghan corruption issue. While everyone acknowledges corruption is an important problem that must be addressed, there is concern in the administration that the near-myopic focus on corruption over the last several months is detracting from the bigger picture.
Recent discussions, including a White House meeting on Afghanistan this week, have centered around the most productive way to approach the corruption issue, according to the source. Central to the conversation was how corruption plays into U.S. goals in Afghanistan and what can the U.S. realistically expect in terms of combating corruption. FULL POST
The Obama administration is looking to turn crisis into opportunity, hoping its robust response to the devastating floods in Pakistan will help improve its poor image among a skeptical Pakistani public.
Since the floods arrived, the United States has been opening the flood gates of aid, starting with an initial pledge of $10 million in humanitarian relief. U.S. disaster experts were dispatched to Pakistan, and American helicopters fanned out across the affected area, airlifting people to safety and delivering supplies. At Pakistan's request, four Chinook and two Black Hawk helicopters are on the way. FULL POST
As U.S. and NATO troops gear up toward a major offensive this summer in the southern Kandahar province, Washington's strategy in Afghanistan hinges more than ever on presenting a credible alternative to the Taliban.
So this latest, not-so-subtle attempt to kiss and make up, to move beyond bitter recriminations and resentments and present a united front would be encouraging, if only the sentiment behind it were true.
WASHINGTON – A Senior State Department official said the central focus of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit this week is for the U.S. and Afghanistan to kick off a dialogue on the bi-lateral relationship between the two countries beyond the presence of U.S. troops and lay a groundwork for a long-term partnership.
"The main thing is to start thinking about getting out of narrow mentality of the next big offensive and looking at the relationship over the long term," the official said. "What do we want our relationship to be about?" FULL POST