Inside the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill Tuesday, there were twodistinctly different hearings on Pakistan. One featured the Obamaadministration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan,Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and it was packed with mainstream media–standing room only. At the conclusion of his testimony–just one floor up from that hearing–the Congressional Progressive Caucus held its fifth forum on Afghanistan, this one focusing on the administration’s Pakistan strategy and how it impacts both countries.
Holbrooke faced very few tough questions–not even on drone strikes. Rep. Lynn Woolsey did press Holbrooke on the fact that 90 percent of the administration’s war supplemental goes towards military expenses, while the counterinsurgency strategy calls for a ratio of 80 percentpolitical and 20 percent military.
“Where is the place for smart power, investing in humanitarian needs andinfrastructure, economy, food, so that we can shore up the people?”Woolsey asked.
“Smart power,” Holbrooke said, “… is exactly what this bill is trying to do.”
“Well, Mr. Ambassador,” Woolsey said, “if the ratio to smart investmentis 1 to 10, with 10 being military investment, I don’t know how we get[there].”
“I don’t think it is 1 to 10 anymore,” Holbrooke said. “It was… Butthis bill is one of a number of bills now in the Congress to correctthat.”
The simple fact is that the funding ratio will not approach what thecounterinsurgency strategy calls for, and one senior congressionalstaffer told me this: “The bottom line is that [the bill] is the samefunding, for the same military efforts, it’s just coming from a StateDepartment account instead of DoD.”
The most outspoken critic of the escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistanwas Republican Congressman Ron Paul. “It just seems like we never learnfrom our past mistakes,” he said. “It’s going to cost a lot of moneyand it’s going to cost a lot of lives…. And the odds of it working areso slim…. How do you win the hearts and minds of these people if we’reseen as invaders and occupiers… I’d like to know where you stand onthe killing of innocent Pashtuns…?