Broad consensus currently exists within the foreign policy community about the need to shift greater attention to Pakistan. But the current administration will need to do more to engage with members of Congress and the general public about the rationale for its actions and specific plans for implementation of the expanded commitment toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. This will not be easy as Congress and the public are already battered by multiple domestic challenges and two wars.
Reporting requirements in proposed legislation for Pakistan assistance may require additional resources for the administration to carry out. But the focus on transparency and accountability is a necessary one to win public support for a potentially costly and long-term engagement with Pakistan’s many challenges. As President Barack Obama makes the case to lawmakers and the American public for an expansive agenda on health care, energy, and economic reform, the argument for a reorientation of the way America conducts its foreign and national security policy must also be at the top of the agenda. He must make clear that while the total investment in Afghanistan and Pakistan will not rival that of Iraq, it will be expensive and enduring, lasting years—and perhaps decades.
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