Holbrooke's Too Busy for Woodward

Richard Holbrooke has been spending a lot of his time (85 percent of it at the ongoing UN General Assembly meeting according to an interview he gave NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday) working on the Pakistani flood issue. And his toil seems to be paying off. One major goal of the administration has been to drum up support for Pakistan amongst the international community, and China just announced that it will give an additional $200 million worth of aid to Pakistan. A month ago, Holbrooke addressed China very specifically, saying that Beijing, a close ally of Islamabad, needed to “step up to the plate.”

The special envoy didn’t have much to say about Bob Woodward’s book because he hasn’t read it. Woodward quotes Holbrooke as saying that the strategy in Afghanistan “can’t work.” When asked to address that point, Holbrooke took a pass: “I have no idea what that phrase refers to, when I'm alleged to have said it, if I said it at all, what the context is. I think the best thing for me to do is to duck and just say I'll look at the book, I'll find out what the allegations are. I'll deal with them later.” He's been too busy to read more than the New York Times piece on the title.

Meanwhile, General David Petraeus has been pushing forward on that hotly debated strategy on the ground. He just completed a “very tentative, pre-decision, provisional analysis” plan for transitioning security control from NATO troops to Afghan forces. Without getting into specifics, Petraeus looked at what districts are in the best shape to start off the transition process. Commenting on the exit, Petraeus alluded to the post-Soviet experience in Afghanistan, saying that next summer’s withdrawal timeline is “not a date when we rush for the exit and reach for the light switch to turn it out before leaving the room.”