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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid