News / Asia

US Senate Panel Questions Success of Nation-Building in Afghanistan

Ryan Crocker, President Barack Obama's choice to become ambassador to Afghanistan, testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 8, 2011
Ryan Crocker, President Barack Obama's choice to become ambassador to Afghanistan, testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 8, 2011

Multimedia

Cindy Saine

Members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee are expressing skepticism about the success of nation-building in Afghanistan, as a two-year congressional report is released, citing only limited results from America's massive financial aid to the country.

One influential senator is calling on the president to withdraw at least 15,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a confirmation hearing for President Barack Obama's nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker. The veteran diplomat has served in a number of countries in the region, including Pakistan, and was U.S. Ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009.

The 61-year-old Crocker said he knows what he is getting himself into if he is confirmed.

"Thank you, Senator," he said. "I am under no illusions of the difficulty of the challenge. If Iraq was hard, and it was hard, Afghanistan in many respects is harder."

All of the senators on the panel recognized Crocker's stellar record, but most of them said they did not envy him taking this post in Afghanistan at a time when the president is coming under increasing pressure from lawmakers from both major political parties to reduce the extent of the costly U.S involvement in Afghanistan. Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho put it like this.

"What we are trying to give to the Afghan people, and have worked at for 10 years, and given them in blood, sweat and tears, you really, really wonder whether they want what we are trying to give them," he said. "And if they do not want what we are trying to give, it is not going to work."

Outside the Senate, Armed Service Committee Chairman Carl Levin called for Obama to withdraw at least 15,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011.  

The president has promised to begin withdrawing some of the estimated 90,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan this July, paving the way for a gradual end to military operations in the country by the end of 2014. He has not specified how many troops he would remove this year.

Crocker acknowledged that there are major challenges in Afghanistan, including government corruption. But he said the United States could never again allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists, from which they can attack the United States.

"As Secretary of Defense [Robert] Gates has noted, we walked away from Afghanistan once in 1989, with disastrous consequences," he said. "We cannot afford to do so again."

VOA's Ira Mellman discussed the report on Daybreak Asia with Michael Semple, Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The hearing occurred the same day the Senate Foreign Relations committee released a report saying U.S. foreign aid to Afghanistan has only had limited success in promoting sustainable stability. Afghanistan has received more than $18 billion in U.S. foreign aid during the past 10 years - more than any other country, including Iraq.

The report cautioned that foreign aid can result in corruption, and can create an inflationary war-time economy. It warned that Afghanistan could suffer a severe economic depression when foreign troops leave the country in 2014, unless there is proper planning to phase out aid slowly, over time.

Even Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, who has supported the president's Afghan policy, made clear there are going to have be changes in the amount of U.S. aid and the number of U.S. troops deployed there.

"While the United States has genuine national security interests in Afghanistan, our current commitment in troops and in dollars, is neither proportional to our interest, nor sustainable in my judgment," said Kerry.

Crocker said U.S. financial aid to Afghanistan has produced some real results, citing education and basic health services. He said more than 7 million Afghan children are in school, and more than 2 million of them are girls, who were prohibited from attending school under the Taliban. He said in considering the hard financial realities, he would never do anything that would put at risk half of the Afghan population - women and girls.

Kerry said he expects Crocker to be confirmed quickly by the Senate so that he can take up his tough job in Kabul.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurd President Urges World Community to Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid