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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs