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Are Holbrooke's Hands Tied?

Richard Holbrooke doesn't have an easy job, and despite his best efforts, it may be inevitable that America loses the battle in Afghanistan. If anything, George Packer's New Yorker profile of the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan shows the circumstances conspiring to tie Holbrooke's hands. Holbrooke's counterterrorist strategy in Afghanistan is to funnel American aid money through the Afghan government in order to encourage citizens to trust and rely on their government. However, his efforts have been hampered by the tension between the desires of America, locals, and the Afghan and Pakistani governments, which have created a situation so delicate that he dare not address the problems head-on. In April Holbrooke alluded to the ties between Pakistani intelligence and the Afghan Taliban, which alienated Pakistani generals. Meanwhile, Indian officials have made it clear that discussion of terrorism in Kashmir, key to stability in the region, is verboten, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai doesn't want to talk about the corruption in his government. There's no good solution, and because the lack of the stability in the region poses a direct threat to the U.S., Holbrooke says that withdrawal is "just not an acceptable course of action."