News / USA

Afghanistan Remains Key Foreign Policy Issue for Obama

President Obama discusses the yearly report on progress in Afghanistan. He was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, left, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Marine General James Cartwright
President Obama discusses the yearly report on progress in Afghanistan. He was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, left, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Marine General James Cartwright
TEXT SIZE - +

One of the central foreign policy questions facing the Obama administration is the conflict in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration's latest strategy review on Afghanistan indicates U.S. forces can begin a scheduled drawdown next July.  The aim is to hand over combat operations to the Afghan security forces by the end of 2014 - if the situation permits it.

In presenting the strategy review, President Barack Obama recently said to ensure Afghans take responsibility, the United States is continuing to focus on training.

"Targets for the growth of Afghan security forces are being met.  And because of the contributions of additional trainers from our coalition partners, I am confident we will continue to meet our goals," said Obama.

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, George Bush's Middle East envoy from 2001-2003, expresses his views during an interview in New York (File Photo)
Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, George Bush's Middle East envoy from 2001-2003, expresses his views during an interview in New York (File Photo)

But retired U.S. Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni says the training situation in Afghanistan is mixed.

"The military training is probably going well from what I can see and understand, well enough - it is still a long way to go.  The police training is concerning," said Zinni.  "I think there has to be a lot more investment in that.  There needs to be a lot more follow-up.  There are problems, I think, in the ranks in terms of not only quality and performance to ensure the lack of corruption, but their ability to relate to the people - and that has probably not gone as well."

Zinni and others say a key problem in Afghanistan is rampant corruption, and it will not be easy to root out.

"It takes a long time because it is so endemic to almost every level of the leadership and governance," he said.  "You have to start not only at the top, but also work it all the way down to the bottom.  It is not going to happen overnight.  If it is so well ensconced in the entire system, it is going to take a lot of time, a committed leadership and most importantly - we have to constantly ensure that we have eyes on what goes on and we call out the corruption when we see it and, most importantly, make it public."

Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who served in 1992 in the George H.W. Bush administration, agrees fighting corruption in Afghanistan is a very difficult proposition.

"There is no guarantee we can do it.  We have dealt with situations like this to some degree in the past in other countries," said Eagleburger. "But this is a Herculean task and I can not assure you that it will not be easily overcome, there is no question about that.  We have to hope that by staying until 2014 we will be able to have enough time to root it out - but I certainly can not guarantee it."

Eagleburger also questions whether Afghan President Hamid Karzai is able to fight corruption, whether he is capable of running the country, and whether he is a reliable partner for the United States.

Former US Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger (File Photo)
Former US Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger (File Photo)

"I have my doubts.  But at the moment he is all that is available, I gather, so we have to go with what we have got," said Eagleburger.  "I would have to hope that I am wrong and he is better than I think he is.  But at the moment I have to answer your question honestly and I do not think he is up to it."

Eagleburger was asked if the United States is investing too much money and lives in Afghanistan.

"I wish I could answer that with a straight answer," he said.  "If we were now for the first time making up our minds as to whether we should be involved in Afghanistan or not, I would be amongst those who would say we should not do it, that we should stay out.  But now that we have made a decision and are in, I guess my answer to you would be we have very little choice now but to stay until we can achieve the success we hope for."

For retired General Anthony Zinni, success would include having a reasonable Afghan government with security forces capable of fighting extremists like the Taliban.

"[Also] the ability to keep out organizations like al-Qaida from getting a sanctuary in there and a government system that is reasonably responsive to the needs of their people," he said.  "I think that is the best we should hope for.  I do not think we should have any delusions about creating Jeffersonian democracy, free-market economies and that sort of thing."

While focusing on Afghanistan, Zinni said any resolution of the Afghan conflict must include Pakistan.

In his presentation of the new Afghan/Pakistan strategy, President Obama said the Pakistani government recognizes that terrorist networks in its border regions are a threat to all our countries, especially Pakistan.  He said progress has not come fast enough, "So we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with"

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid