News / Asia

NATO Commander: ‘Cautious Optimism’ Ahead of Afghanistan Withdrawal

‘Cautious Optimism’ Ahead of NATO Afghanistan Withdrawali
X
April 26, 2013 8:12 PM
The top NATO military commander says, with all the challenges still facing Afghanistan, he is only “cautiously optimistic” that the Afghan government and security forces will be able to maintain security and prevent the country from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists after most foreign forces withdraw at the end of next year. U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis spoke about the situation in an interview with VOA's Al Pessin.
Al Pessin
The top NATO military commander says, with all the challenges still facing Afghanistan, he is only “cautiously optimistic” that the Afghan government and security forces will be able to maintain security and prevent the country from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists  after most foreign forces withdraw at the end of next year. U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis spoke about the situation in an interview.

It’s been nearly four years since Stavridis took over at U.S. European Command, and a few days later as commander of NATO operations worldwide.

Since then, he has made numerous visits to Afghanistan to provide strategic guidance to troops and commanders from dozens of countries, and to monitor progress.  

But four years later - and after more than 11 years of Western military involvement, thousands of casualties and billions of dollars spent - he can muster only ‘cautious’ optimism that in the end the Afghanistan effort will succeed.  

Admiral James Stavridis (left), Supreme Allied Commander Europe, during an interview with VOA's Al Pessin at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 23, 2013.Admiral James Stavridis (left), Supreme Allied Commander Europe, during an interview with VOA's Al Pessin at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 23, 2013.
x
Admiral James Stavridis (left), Supreme Allied Commander Europe, during an interview with VOA's Al Pessin at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 23, 2013.
Admiral James Stavridis (left), Supreme Allied Commander Europe, during an interview with VOA's Al Pessin at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 23, 2013.
“I think we've gone, over the four years that I've been in command, that I can speak to personally, from a period of time in which I had doubts about our ability to succeed to today, [when] I think we will succeed. And I remain cautiously optimistic that we will,” said Stavridis.

That optimism is based in large part on what the admiral sees as significant improvements in the Afghan security forces, which showed him some of what they can do during a visit two years ago.  

More broadly, he said Afghanistan’s civilian society also is changing for the better.  

Meanwhile, Taliban attacks continue in several parts of the country. But the admiral said that when foreign troops, except for trainers and counter-terrorism experts,  leave at the end of next year,  the Taliban’s ability to convince Afghans to help them will be severely reduced.

“The Taliban narrative throughout this period, throughout this decade, has been 'we're fighting the foreigners.' And that was their rallying call. Well, guess what. At the end of 2014 they're not fighting the foreigners, they're fighting Afghans - their own brothers, and by the way their sisters, in the Afghan armed forces. So their narrative breaks at the end of 2014,” he said.

It could still all go wrong, but Afghanistan researcher Matthew Willis, at London’s Royal United Services Institute, has a view similar to the admiral’s.

“I think they will hold it together. A lot of people are concerned that, following 2014, Afghanistan will revert to a 1990s sort of situation, which ultimately was civil war. But there is no reason that history should repeat itself,” said Willis.

After years of war and dashed hopes, however, no one is expressing confidence, only hope and caution.  

And as he prepares to retire after 37 years in the U.S. Navy, Admiral Stavridis shares one lesson he has learned, partly from the Afghanistan war.

“In the end, in this 21st century, we won't deliver security from the barrel of a gun. We won't deliver security from the barrel of a gun,” he said.

The admiral said security and freedom will be gained through international cooperation and a communications strategy to explain and promote democratic values, with only sparing use of the military to which he devoted his career.

You May Like

Russia's 'V-Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

Critics say Soviet-style display of power, nationalism don't recognize tragic scars of warfare that still influence politics, fighting in Ukraine More

Tensions Simmer in Hong Kong in Lead Up to Vote

Many Hong Kong citizen say if the reform plan will be a step back for the pro-democracy movement if passed More

Multimedia Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed

President introduces My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, foundation supporting better education and job prospects More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jocky
April 27, 2013 11:40 PM
Idealistic words in a free world, "security and freedom will be gained through international cooperation and a communications strategy to explain and promote democratic values".Tragically this didn't work at all in Zimbabwe and many were to lose their lives and freedom? well that too is another
real story, waiting to be told. Please Admiral spare a thought for the people there.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
April 27, 2013 11:00 AM
The optimism is based on fantasy. Afghanistan has not resolved the fundamental issues, the root causes of the instability; it has remained a country whose economy is based on the opium business, and the fact that those that control the business/ economy, are in fact hardened tribal Islamists.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs