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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid