Abandoning Afghanistan a big risk: Ex-generals, diplomats
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): A group of former American generals and diplomats on Monday called for “enduring commitment” to Afghanistan, arguing that abandoning the country would be a big a risk that the US could not afford.
The current situation in Afghanistan was fraughtand worrisome, observed Gen. (R) David Petraeus, a former CIA director and head of US troops in Afghanistan. The United States continued to have national security interest in Afghanistan.
Petraeus told a Washington audience at the Brookings Institute that a long-term presence of US troops in Afghanistan was essential to ensure the country did not become a terrorist safe haven and a launch pad for attacks against the US.
“The next administration should be focused on Afghanistan,” the former general said, stressing the need to support Afghan security forces. “Indeed the key is an enduring commitment in a country where we have a very important national interest,” Petraeus reiterated.
The situation in Afghanistan was complex, agreed former US ambassador Ron Neumann. The United States hadhuge interest in Afghanistan, even though the politics in that country was messy, he noted.
Neumann urged the incoming administration to focus on three things: “First there is need for steadiness. Clarity in explaining what our policy is in Afghanistan. And finally we have to maintain pressure on the Afghan government for various kinds of reform.
“We need to have pressure in the Afghan Government for various kinds of reforms within a reasonable period of time,” he said.
James B. Cunningham, ex-US ambassador to Afghanistan, also called for clarity in US policy. “Clarity about what the US is going to do in the long term is absolutely essential for the regional players. Ending that cycle of force posture is absolutely critical,” he stressed.
“I can’t guarantee success in Afghanistan, but can absolutely guarantee what would happen if we do not stay there (in Afghanistan),” Cunningham remarked.
Fundamental changes to Pakistan’s policy on Afghanistan were yet to be seen, he concluded.
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