Representative David Obey, who chairs the House appropriations committee, is comparing the Afghanistan-Pakistan war to Vietnam:
There were new signs of uneasiness on Capitol Hill about United States involvement in the region. The Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee pronounced himself as “very doubtful” that Mr. Obama’s plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan could succeed. The chairman, Representative David Obey, of Wisconsin, said he would allow only one year for the White House to show concrete results, and repeatedly likened Mr. Obama’s approach to President Richard Nixon’s plans for Vietnam in 1969.
And Obey is planning to attach conditions to aid that President Obama wants:
Mr. Obey, whose committee oversees all federal discretionary spending, said Monday that in the supplemental war-funding bill the House Democrats plan to require the White House to report to Congress next year with measurements of progress from Afghanistan and Iraq in five specific areas: political consensus, government corruption, counterinsurgency efforts, intelligence cooperation and border security.
He added: “I am not going to be looking at those standards like I am the permanent president of the optimists’ club.” At stake is at least $1 billion in immediate funding for Pakistan’s war and for economic aid, along with — potentially — $1.5 billion a year in additional aid that Obama wants for the next five to ten years.
In a Washington Post op-ed, Pakistan’s premier journalist, Ahmed Rashid challenges Obey directly, without mentioning his name:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked Congress for $497 million in emergency funds to stabilize Pakistan’s economy, strengthen law enforcement and help the refugees. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked for $400 million in aid to the army, funds that would be monitored by U.S. Central Command. Lawmakers are hesitating. … But delays are dangerous.
And Rashid opposes conditions on the aid:
Other legislation before Congress would provide $1.5 billion a year to Pakistan for the next five years. But the extensive conditions — as varied as improving relations with India, fighting the Afghan Taliban and allowing the U.S. interrogation of Pakistani nuclear scientists — are too much for any Pakistani government to accept and survive politically. … Congress should pass the emergency funds quickly and, at minimum, offer the first year of the $1.5 billion without conditions.