Not NSA but….

Bruce Reidel has been appointed to a high-level advisor position on Afghanistan-Pakistan:

One of the first priorities of the Obama administration will be to reassess US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, his aides say.

And as a first step, he has appointed Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and adviser to three US presidents on South Asia and the Middle East as his adviser on Pakistan.

His aides say that Mr Obama is impressed with Mr Riedel’s views and it was on his advice that Mr Obama spoke of the need to resolve the Kashmir dispute in an interview with a US television network last weekend.

According to these aides, one of Mr Riedel’s long-time themes is that resolving the Kashmir dispute is essential for fighting terrorism.

But in doing so, Mr Riedel does not emphasise the need to restoring the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. Instead, he advocates finding a solution that satisfies India and ends Pakistan’s excuse for lingering the dispute.

A major part of Mr Riedel’s theory for ending conflicts in South Asia deals with persuading Pakistan to accept India’s influence in the region and stop its efforts to counter India by promoting its own interests in places like Afghanistan.

By persuading India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute, Mr Riedel also hopes to refocus the Pakistani military on fighting militants within its border, a point Mr Obama also stressed in his interview to CNN last week. But this over-emphasis on the military option is already worrying experts on the Afghan conflict.

Interesting ideas and I have no doubt that having Bruce Riedel playing an influential role in the Obama administration is a  good thing.

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