Holbrooke on the Pak Side of Af/Pak

Today, Wednesday, April 29,This has been moved to Tuesday, May 05, 2009, 12:00 PM. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke will be at the Rayburn House answering questions from the full House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) members. HFAC chairman, Howard L. Berman (D-CA) is holding an open hearing on the Pak side of Af/Pak — From Strategy to Implementation: The Future of the U.S.-Pakistan Relationship.

Tomorrow, April 30, Ambassador Holbrooke will be at the Dirksen Senate Building to testify at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC). Senator John Kerry is also holding a hearing on the Pak part of Af/Pak — US Strategy Toward Pakistan. (Update 4/29 @ 8:50 pm: It seems only a matter of time; this one has also been postponed. Will update when this is rescheduled).

You know CSPAN will be covering it as well as a few more media outlets because like Strobe Talbott says, he’s “the diplomatic equivalent of a hydrogen bomb,” okay? And speaking of Holbrooke — In the Loop’s Al Kamen has written earlier this week about Holbrooke’s Growing Orbit.

I will not repeat the joke that has migrated from the Balkans to Foggy Bottom , but Holbrooke is reported to “have announced to a meeting of career Foreign Service folks in the South and Central Asia bureau (SCA) that they were now working for him, something that stunned more than a few of them.”

If true, boy oh boy — does that mean the incoming Assistant Secretary for SCA, Ambassador Robert Blake, also works for him? Hmmn….hmmnnn..

Ambassador Blake has just been announced as the Assistant Secretary nominee for the SCA bureau. If you look at this map, you’ll see that Af/Pak runs right at the center of the South Central Asian region, and some have pointed out that without Afghanistan and Pakistan, the SCA bureau has a shrunken domain. Even then, I thought, well, at least SCA still has India and Kazakhstan, two of the largest countries in the region with their own sets of challenges. But now … one wonders.

It would be interesting to hear how Ambassador Blake sees his role in the big picture; after all he’ll be the one facing a confirmation hearing, not the special envoy. Blake’s nomination has been sent to the Senate and is currently pending at the SFRC (15 nominations in the queue ahead of him at the moment).

I did say back in February that I could not imagine the org boxes to stay the same with Ambassador Holbrooke on the scene. I’m sure there will be more on this later…

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