Bruce Riedel spoke to the International Peace Institute on May 12, 2009. He offered insight into the “dire and deteriorating” situation in Pakistan, how it relates to Afghanistan and the region, and addressed al Qaeda’s current state of effectiveness.
Thank you very much. I feel a little guilty sitting with so many of you standing, but not that guilty. So if you’ll indulge me, I will continue to sit. Thank you for that very kind introduction and I am very glad that we made this happen. It’s taken months, but I’m glad to be here.
Let me begin with a disclaimer. My contract with the United States government expired a month ago. I am not a spokesman for the Obama administration. I’m not a spokesman for the United States Government. So please do not regard these remarks as a statement of U.S. policy and do not hold the U.S. government responsible for what I have to say.
What I would like to focus on for the next 20 or 25 minutes is the challenge we face in Afghanistan and Pakistan today. I’ll talk a little bit about the strategy that the president is now implementing but I’d be happy to take more of your questions about the strategy, and I will focus my remarks more on the challenge that we face.
Let me begin with Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, of course, is the reason we have 50,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan today and will have close to 75,000 by the end of this summer. Let me offer you three observations about the state of Al Qaeda today.