News / Asia

Former High-Ranking US Officials Voice Skepticism on Afghanistan Plan

Afghan soldiers march during the second phase of transfer of authority ceremony from the NATO-led troops to Afghan security forces in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, January 26, 2012.
Afghan soldiers march during the second phase of transfer of authority ceremony from the NATO-led troops to Afghan security forces in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, January 26, 2012.

In Afghanistan, the goal of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - or NATO, is to hand over combat operations to the Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

NATO has been operating in Afghanistan since 2003, leading a 130,000-strong United Nations-mandated contingent known as the “International Security Assistance Force” - or ISAF.

NATO missions

NATO has three missions in Afghanistan. The first is to assist the government of President Hamid Karzai in its efforts to rebuild and stabilize the country. The second is to train the Afghan army and police. And the third mission is to hunt down and eliminate insurgents, especially in southern Afghanistan - home of the Taliban, ousted from power by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001.

The U.S. and NATO goal is to hand over combat operations to the Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton in New York. (2011 File Photo)
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton in New York. (2011 File Photo)

But John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is skeptical that the Afghan security and armed forces will be up to the task.

“I don’t think they will be, but it’s in part not because of a lack of training or a lack of equipment," said Bolton. "I think there is a fundamental disjunction in the policy here: we’re looking at Afghanistan as a state, as if it were somewhere in Western Europe - and it’s not. The issue therefore is not really the capability of the Afghan government - it should be the continuing extent of the Taliban/al-Qaida threat. And I think that is something that every indication we have is that that threat will continue, no matter what the paper qualifications of an Afghan government might look like in 2014 or 2015 or whenever.”

Taliban

The Taliban recently announced it will open a political office in Qatar. Some experts say this could lead, eventually, to preliminary talks leading to peace negotiations.

Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft on Capitol Hill in Washington. (2007 File Photo)
Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft on Capitol Hill in Washington. (2007 File Photo)

But former National Security Adviser General Brent Scowcroft urges caution.

“It’s very hard for us to negotiate with the Taliban," he said. "They want us out. So almost anything we negotiate, they will be successful. We want them to agree not to turn to terrorism and not to be a haven for al-Qaida. But once we’re gone, we have absolutely no control over them - so it’s kind of a one-sided negotiation.”

Former Defense Secretary William Cohen says discussing peace with the insurgents will depend on what Taliban faction you are talking about.

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Sebastian Cohen. (2008 File Photo)
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Sebastian Cohen. (2008 File Photo)

“If it’s the Taliban that has decided that it is going to lay down its arms and work towards a peaceful solution for the country - that might be something at least worth discussing," said Cohen. "I think it’s going to have quite a difficult hill to climb, however, since many of the Afghan people have been the victims of Taliban rule in the past and don’t want to return to that. So how the Taliban are seen and how they conduct themselves in the future, I think will be important in determining whether or not there is any role for them to play.”

Cohen, Bolton and Scowcroft

Cohen, Bolton and Scowcroft believe any long-lasting solution to the Afghan conflict must include neighboring Pakistan.

General Scowcroft says Washington must work hard to stabilize relations with Islamabad.

“We have had difficult relations with Pakistan off and on from the time of its creation, when we were their principal security blanket," he said. "From the Pakistani point of view, we have abandoned them several times. And so they are very ambivalent about trusting the United States. But we need to have a relatively stable, prosperous Pakistan to have a region there which suits our minimum needs.”

Relations between the United States and Pakistan plunged last November when a NATO attack killed some two dozen Pakistani soldiers. Islamabad reacted by shutting down all NATO supply routes transiting from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Those routes remain closed.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs