News / Asia

    US Ambassador Promises Not to Abandon Afghanistan

    New U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker gives a speech during his swearing ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday, July 25, 2011.
    New U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker gives a speech during his swearing ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday, July 25, 2011.

    Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States began a new engagement in the Muslim world. One of the key architects of that engagement is the newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker.

    Few American statesmen have spent more time on the front line of America's post 9/11 diplomatic efforts than current U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker. He re-opened the U.S embassy in Kabul in 2001 following the fall of the Taliban, later served as ambassador to Pakistan and then to Iraq, where he was partnered with General David Petraeus during the surge of U.S. troops.

    He was also in New York on the day of the attacks and carries the  memory close to his heart. "It has defined my life and my career from that moment to this. I've spent five years since 9/11 deployed in these countries and I expect to be here for several more. Because I, you know, 3,000 people killed on one New York morning is something none of us ever want to see again," he said.

    At first, the U.S. was reluctant to engage in nation-building in Afghanistan, preferring to focus on removing the Taliban from power and hunting down al-Qaida.

    But within a few years, it became apparent that without building institutions it left a vacuum in the country that allowed the Taliban to sneak back in from safe havens in Pakistan and destabilize Afghanistan again.

    Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, a former Afghan foreign minister who became an opponent of President Hamid Karzai, says the internatonal community, and the Afghans themselves, have missed an opportunity by not understanding one another better, ignoring the Pakistani safe havens and allowing corruption to grow in the country, notably within the government. "These three factors (have) led to this situation, and 10 years down the road we should have been in a much better situation in terms of Afghan institutions assuming responsibility,shouldering responsibilities," he said.

    When the U.S. came to Afghanistan, the policy was to put anti-Taliban warlords on the payroll - turning a blind eye, critics say, to their abuses. which led to an environment of corruption.

    Afghanistan is a devastated, impoverished country. Ambassador Crocker has seen firsthand what happens when institutions are either non-existent or removed, and he says that people need to be patient in building up Afghan civil society.

    "Institutions take time to build. Particularly in Afghanistan, like in Iraq, you've had not just the removal of a leader, you've had a revolution. All these old structures are gone. So you don't get ministries that function perfectly overnight, or even over a decade. It takes time to develop those. It takes time to develop the rule of law. Which means, whether it is Iraq or it is Afghanistan, you are going to have corruption. It has to be taken seriously," he said.

    But with a 2014 timetable set for NATO combat troops to leave Afghanistan, many say the Taliban is under the impression they can just wait out the West. Dr. Abdullah says this is due to the past experience of Soviet forces leaving in haste, and a lack of clarity of message about what will happen after NATO combat troops leave.

    "It's a very uphill struggle, with the past experience of the Afghan people, the Soviet withdrew overnight, and the last soldier, the last tank... That is very vivid in the memory of the Afghan people.  But, at the same time, the admiinistration, the Afghan administration, confusing it's own people. The range of the views of the Afghans, you will be surprised that it differs from a complete withdrawal, nothing left behind, to permanent bases," he said.

    To avoid another vacuum and civil war like the one that broke out following the Soviet withdrawal, the West is working on building up local forces, as they did in Iraq.

    And not abandoning Afghanistan again, as well as getting that message across, is a priority for Ambassador Crocker. Because, he says, the consequences are unacceptable.

    "To leave before the job is done, to leave before Afghan security forces are capable of providing security throughout the country, risks a return of the Taliban. And that is why, a decade on, we must muster the strategic patience, as a nation and as a people, to do everything we can to make sure that things come right here, and next door in Pakistan, precisely so we never have to endure that kind of attack again," he said.

    Like the Ambassador, Many Americans involved say despite the distance of time, the images from 10 years ago remain a driving force in their work in Afghanistan.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.