News / USA

US Officials Downplay 'Zero Option' for US Troops in Afghanistan

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins, June 27, 2013.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins, June 27, 2013.
Michael Bowman
High-ranking Obama administration officials have downplayed the likelihood of complete military disengagement from Afghanistan, but provided little insight on negotiations for a residual U.S. troop presence in the country beyond next year.  Senior officials testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday.

What has America’s 12-year engagement in Afghanistan helped achieve?  Quite a lot, according to the State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, James Dobbins.

“Life expectancy has gone from 44 years to 60 years.  Afghanistan has gone from having the worst literacy rate in the entire world, maybe 15 percent, to 33 percent literacy today.  Going from one TV station that was government-owned to 75, nearly all independent.  Going from 40,000 telephones to 18 million telephones.  Cell phone coverage going from zero to 90 percent of the country.  These are pretty remarkable outcomes," said Dobbins.

And U.S. and NATO efforts to train Afghan security forces are also succeeding, according to the Pentagon’s top official for Asian security matters, Peter Lavoy.

“These [Afghan] forces are out there leading combat operations throughout the country.  Despite heavy fighting, the Afghans are holding the gains of recent years.  And the Taliban must come to grips with the fact that they cannot defeat the Afghan National Security Forces militarily," said Lavoy.

How Afghan forces would hold up on their own is an open question.  The United States is to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year.  So far, the Obama administration and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have been unable to agree on a residual American troop presence beyond 2014.  U.S. officials are not ruling out a so-called “zero option” - meaning no troops - if negotiations fail, but James Dobbins sees that possibility as remote.

“Of course, without an agreement on our presence in Afghanistan, we would not remain.  But we do not believe that is the likely outcome of these negotiations.  The Afghans actually need us to stay.  Most Afghans want us to stay, and we have promised to stay," he said.

Several lawmakers expressed frustration with what they see as a lack of clarity by President Barack Obama on America’s future in Afghanistan. Republican Senator Bob Corker characterized some of Karzai’s reported beliefs and negotiating positions as “crazy”, but noted that Afghanistan will have a new leader next year.

“I am asking this administration to look beyond Karzai - he is going to be gone in April - to look at our national interest, to make some decision with clarity and show some world leadership," said Corker.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez spelled out what he sees as the bottom line:

“The United States needs to make clear once again that we are committed to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan. Period," said Menedez.

Menendez added, however, that it is President Karzai who will decide whether that partnership materializes, saying, “The ball is in his court.”

Related video report by Kokab Farshori:

Afghanistan 'Zero Option' May Have Repercussions for Regioni
X
July 11, 2013 10:22 PM
Earlier this week, the White House said a decision on pulling out all U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 2014 is not imminent but it is an option "on the table." Many experts say U.S. policymakers are increasingly frustrated in their negotiations with Afghanistan's government on a continued military presence in Afghanistan after that date. The senior U.S. diplomat for Afghanistan told Congress this week he believes an agreement will be reached, and as VOA's Kokab Farshori reports, a number of experts say it is in the interests of both governments to avoid the so called "zero-option" plan.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid