The Cable

Team Obama scuttles the term "AfPak"

Haven't heard the term "AfPak" coming from senior administration officials lately? There's a good reason for that. The Obama team has jettisoned the term due to Pakistani ire, according to special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke.

"We can't use it anymore because it does not please people in Pakistan, for understandable reasons," Holbrooke told the Women's Foreign Policy Group Jan. 8.

Those reasons apparently weren't all that understandable when Holbrooke coined the term and pushed its usage to government types and reporters alike. Also at the WFPG event, the New York Times' Helene Cooper explained how Holbrooke had advocated for the phrase that the government is now abandoning.

"Ambassador Holbrooke takes great pride in having invented the word ‘AfPak,' Cooper said. "A few years ago, I was interviewing him for a piece I was working on on Afghanistan, and he kept going on, ‘AfPak, AfPak, AfPak.'  And it was just sort of like white noise, and I kept ignoring it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever.' I got  off the phone and the next day he called me before my story had run, and he said, ‘Your story really needs to use the word AfPak.' And I said, ‘What are you going on about?' And he said, ‘No, seriously: AfPak is going to be big."

And it was big. The joining of Afghanistan and Pakistan into "AfPak" was a main takeaway of the Obama administration's first major policy review in March, which was run by Holbrooke, along with Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy, and former NSC staffer Bruce Riedel.

But Pakistanis hated the term from day one and griped about it in public and private.

"The Af-Pak terminology is disliked and has received strong criticism across Pakistan," the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs wrote in a recent report on Pakistan. "The Pakistani intelligentsia is not pleased with a de-hyphenation of the Indo-Pak equation and the hyphenation of the Pak-Afghan calculus. The issue is not only one of national pride; there is a genuine concern among the strategic enclave that the permanence of the threat from India has not eroded. ... There is objectively no interest for Pakistan to be fully involved in what is happening outside its borders, namely in Afghanistan."

So I guess we can add "AfPak" to the growing list of terms the Obama administration won't likely be using in the near future, including the "Global War on Terror," "strategic reassurance," "honest budgeting," and maybe "comprehensive health-care reform." (Too soon?)

Holbrooke was in India Tuesday as part of his whirlwind tour of South Asia, where he said that Indian participation is crucial to the success of the region. The Indians have made clear that they don't want Holbrooke to have India in his portfolio, so don't expect the term ‘Af-Ind' to surface anytime soon.

AFP/Getty Images

The Cable

Finnish Embassy awarded for going green

A lot of countries give lip service to the idea of "green government," but there is one diplomatic mission in Washington that's putting its money where its mouth is: Finland.

The Finnish Embassy in D.C. just became the first embassy in town to be awarded the LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. To get that award, the Finns had to retrofit their 15-year-old mission home, which is now carbon-neutral, and fundamentally change the way they approached energy use in the building.

Occupancy sensors were installed in offices, recycling became a major priority, and all procurement became subject to environmental considerations. Used furniture and other durable goods were donated to local schools and organizations. All cleaning supplies were replaced with environmentally sound products, and low-impact chemicals were introduced in site maintenance such as gardening. A stringent non-smoking policy was implemented, and garage space was redesignated to encourage staff to cycle to work or use hybrid vehicles.

Perhaps most impressively, all of this was accomplished during a time of great activity for the Diplomatic Finnish Sauna Society of Washington, that semi-exclusive group of politicos that meets in the basement sauna of the embassy to eat salmon, drink Budweiser, and talk about matters of global intrigue. (FULL DISCLOSURE: Your Cable guy is a founding member of the society.)

"We are extremely proud to be the first embassy in the U.S. to achieve this recognition", said Finnish Ambassador Pekka Lintu. "Retrofitting our embassy building demonstrates that we Finns strive to be active but energy efficient members of our neighborhood and the greater D.C. community. ... We hope that our adaptation of green principles and our commitment to the well-being of people and the environment will inspire other foreign missions to view their opportunities in this field."