Ambassador: U.S. will not accelerate removal of troops from Afghanistan
Money Quote from the article:
"A military investigation into the burning of the Qurans at Bagram could conclude as early as this weekend. Crocker and Allen have said the soldiers involved may face punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice but will not be turned over to the Afghan courts as requested by Karzai."
KABUL — America will not accelerate the removal of its troops from Afghanistan despite a series of attacks on U.S. soldiers by Afghan security personnel angered over the burning of Qurans at a coalition airfield, according to the top U.S. diplomat here.
Ryan Crocker, the American ambassador to Afghanistan, emphasized in an interview at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that the troop withdrawal would proceed as outlined last summer by President Barack Obama.
“We have not invested the billions of dollars we have and the lives of 1,900 Americans to see the Taliban retake this country and al-Qaida once again be able to restage here,” Crocker said.
“That’s why we’re here — to be sure al-Qaida is defeated and that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for forces that would seek to attack us on our own soil.”
There are 90,000 U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan. The number will be reduced to 68,000 by Sept. 30, and most of the remaining troops will leave by the end of 2014.
Crocker’s statements echoed those of Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta this week as top U.S. officials attempt to counter deepening suspicion between Afghans and coalition forces, and mounting criticism in America of a war more than a decade old.
Since Feb. 21, when reports surfaced that soldiers at Bagram Airfield had burned several copies of the Quran, Afghan security forces have shot and killed six U.S. servicemembers in three separate incidents.
The latest shooting occurred Thursday, when two Afghan soldiers and a literacy instructor opened fire at a base in Kandahar province, killing two U.S. soldiers and wounding a third. Coalition troops returned fire and killed the two Afghan soldiers.
The attack followed the shooting deaths of a pair of American soldiers by an Afghan counterpart at a base in Nangarhar province on Feb. 23.
Two days later, an Afghan police officer gunned down two U.S. military advisers at the Interior Ministry building in Kabul. The suspect remains at large.
The slayings at the ministry led U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, NATO’s commander in Afghanistan, to recall the hundreds of U.S. advisers who work in government buildings in the capital.
Some advisers have since returned to their offices. But the succession of what the military terms “green-on-blue” attacks could strain the relationship between Afghan security forces and the coalition troops charged with training them before departing in 2014.
Crocker, while describing the killings as “horrible incidents,” sought to place the attacks in the larger framework of the ongoing effort to build an Afghan military force of 350,000 troops.
“When you look at the number of international advisers out there every day with Afghan forces, both in training and in an operational context, you’re talking about a tragic but very, very tiny percentage of incidents,” he said.
Violence jolted Kabul and several provinces for a week as Afghans protested the burning of the Qurans. More than 30 people were killed and hundreds injured, with most of the casualties occurring as demonstrators clashed with Afghan security forces.
Considering that some protests drew upward of 4,000 people, Crocker said the bloodshed “could have been a lot worse.”
“One of the hardest things you can ask a police or military force to do is confront your own population,” he said. Crediting Afghan security forces for responding “with discipline and determination … and, under the circumstances, a minimum use of force,” Crocker appraised their actions as a “bright spot” amid the unrest.
“We’ve seen the future, in a sense, of Afghan forces able to operate independently — without coalition partners, without coalition embeds,” he said.
“The Taliban did their best to instigate a lot of these protests,” he added. “They can’t be too happy with how it turned out for them.”
Obama, Panetta and Allen offered apologies for the burning of the Qurans, eliciting criticism from some of the Republican candidates for president, including frontrunner Mitt Romney. Crocker defended the public show of contrition.
“We’re Americans, and one of our qualities is that when we make mistakes, we acknowledge them and we apologize for them,” he said.
“It was also important — although I didn’t think that was anyone’s initial motivation — in giving President (Hamid) Karzai the tool to say, ‘Look, they have acknowledged it was a mistake, they’ve apologized for it, everybody calm down.’”
A military investigation into the burning of the Qurans at Bagram could conclude as early as this weekend. Crocker and Allen have said the soldiers involved may face punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice but will not be turned over to the Afghan courts as requested by Karzai.
Crocker, 62, served a two-year stint as ambassador to Iraq that ended in 2009, and previously held the same post in Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. The native of Spokane, Wash., helped reopen the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in 2002 after American forces ousted the Taliban from power.
“I’ve never seen such utter devastation and annihilation as I saw here …,” he said, recalling the aftermath of Afghanistan’s civil war. “Parts of the city — large parts of the city — looked like Berlin (in) 1945.”
He returned to Kabul as the U.S. ambassador last summer at Obama’s request, possessed of a “strategic patience” learned from his time in Iraq.
“If Iraq was hard, and it was, Afghanistan is harder,” said Crocker, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President George W. Bush.
“Iraq had a reasonably well-developed infrastructure, a proud military tradition, a skilled set of bureaucrats. … Afghanistan had none of those things after 30 years of conflict. Everything had to be built from the ground up.”
He contends the past decade has brought gains in educational opportunities for girls and women, wider access to health care and an expanded range of government services.
As for the democratic government maturing at a slower rate than Westerners might have hoped, he said, “You cannot have a total revolution in a country and then expect that overnight it’s going to transform itself into a modern liberal democracy. (America) didn’t do it. It’s a struggle.”
Looking beyond 2014 and the withdrawal of most U.S. troops, Crocker envisions an international presence staying in Afghanistan in an advisory role.
In the interim, he considers the elimination of Taliban safe havens in Pakistan near its border with Afghanistan vital to the prospects of peace.
“Ultimately, it’s going to take Pakistani action and the recognition that these insurgent groups are more dangerous to them than they are to Afghanistan,” Crocker said. “They have taken thousands of casualties in their military and paramilitary forces fighting insurgents on their own soil.”
Meanwhile, as speculation persists of discord within the Taliban-led insurgency about entering into peace talks with the Afghan government, Crocker regards that internal strife as an advantage for the coalition.
“A divided Taliban is not a bad thing at all,” he said. “You reconcile with those who are reconcilable, and then you figure out what the minimum number of irreconcilables are and you go after them. I mean, let’s face it, like in Iraq, there are some you simply have to kill because they’re not going to come across.”
>>> SOMEBODY HAS THE GUTS TO STAND UP TO KARZAI AND HIS BAND OF RAGHEADS . THE SOLDIERS WHO BURNED THE UNHOLY q'uran UNINTENTIONALLY SHOULD NOT RECEIVE ANY FORM OF DISCIPLINARY ACTION BY OFFICERS OR COURTS . TELL KARZAI AND HIS BUMS TO GO BACK TO HELL .
“When you look at the number of international advisers out there every day with Afghan forces, both in training and in an operational context, you’re talking about a tragic but very, very tiny percentage of incidents."
This from the United States ambassador? What the HELL is going on? The murder of even ONE of our precious soldiers or Marines should bring swift, harsh, and effective retribution. They are killing our sons and daughters over a God-damned book!
What is wrong with the idiots in charge, from the CIC all of the way down to company commanders? We are falling all over ourselves to apologize for offending some backward goat f**kers about some lousy books being damaged while supposedly fighting a war? If we had run WWII like this, we would have apologized to Hirohito for having our ships in the way of their bombs and torpedoes, and the world would now be speaking German and/or Japanese.
CRIMINY! I'm looking at our entire government and command structure and thinking that absolutely no testes could be found among them.
Yes when you look at Blue on Green murder rates as acceptable numbers it does make you scratch your head "to say it in the nicest terms I will put it". On Twana's show on Wednesday I believe the number of Blue on Green murders since last April of 2011 was at 22 not counting the latest.
So we have had about 30 Americans Murdered by our allies in 10 months. These are our friends in arms. Now when we have an "Incident" when gun fire is coming from a house and a Afghan woman or an old man gets killed well, all hell breaks lose.
CRIMINY! I also I'm looking at our entire government and command structure and thinking that absolutely no testes could be found among them.
Our inability to look at ourselves and to contemplate that our foreign policy may be part of the problem is beyond the grasp of many of us, and those who would dare to suggest such action are immediately deemed to be subversive or supporters of "terrorism".
We rage on about how everyone is against us, and use our denial to continue our self destructive behavior. In search of another fix we roar across the world dropping bombs on anyone who may try to point out that our sickness is self-imposed.
But, today, U.S. policy is rooted in lies, injustice, and war. And at home, the people of the U.S. suffer.
I am saddened as an American at what my country is doing to the world. I am saddened that our first African-American President presents a false perception of the political consensus in the U.S. when he participate in war crimes and global death and destruction.
These wars constitute a crime against humanity, crimes against the peace, and crimes against our planet.
Indeed. Obama has nothing but admiration for "his" media, who are all completely in the tank for/with him.
Word to the wise: Noam Chomsky is someone who is definitely unwelcome around here.
"...crimes against our planet."? I think that you might be on the wrong forum. The muzzies are not pointing out "that our sickness is self-imposed." They want to kill us. They want to kill me, and they want to kill you, Fini. They are not pointing out anything; that sort of thing is well beyond the scope of their desire and understanding. They exist in a medieval world of tribes, superstition, and violence.
I will be the first to admit that America has some problems, but those have all developed in the past half-century of "progressive" nonsense. From WWII until the 1960's, America was looked upon by her citizens and by the rest of the world as a beacon of morality, righteousness, and freedom. This is no longer the case, but it is unfair to lay the blame at the feet of the country; the problem lies in the fact that those inimical to "...truth, justice, and the American way" have been running the show since the Viet Nam era. America was a great place until then.
As for "...our first African-American [p]resident...", the perception of political consensus is not the only "false" that he presents. I think, even, that the part after the hyphen (Don't get me started on the Balkanization of America by hyphens!) is probably not so. And why would our president, of all people, be any sort of Hyphenated-American? The president should be nothing but "American"! Period. Even if he was born in Hawaii, his mother could not confer upon him citizenship under the law in effect at the time, but, even if -- and that's a big one -- he is considered a citizen, he is but native-born, not "natural born" as is Constitutionally required for him to legally hold the presidency. No matter what, by his words and his actions he constantly proves that he is NOT "American" in any sense of what was once considered required to be "American".
what is very sad is the the president has not come out to say that we are not going to have they tried in a Muslim court system, or turn them over to one after their trial in a military court, which I still do not understand how they can be tried for following orders, and how he has been bowing and kowtowing to them all along just makes me very unsettled about his thoughts on this I really think he is considering turning them over to appease his fellow Muslims
More political BS.... as for the "5 soldiers who will be punished" ???? WHAT??? WHO ordered those soldiers to burn that pile of rubbish????
NO MORE SCAPEGOATS...get the wolves responsible...the ones who defaced their own holy book and make THEM PAY.
First off, the Ambassadors' statement: “We have not invested the billions of dollars we have and the lives of 1,900 Americans to see the Taliban retake this country and al-Qaida once again be able to restage here,” Do they really believe that somehow in the next year they will convince the enemy to not come back after we are gone?? This statement reflects the absolute insanity and incompetence practiced by this administration and an insult to those we have lost in this "black hole".
Second to refer to the latest assasinations of our military as "green on blue" attempts to negate the human lives lost. In fact this is nothing less that brutal murder. This, like the statement that there are "no mulsim terrorists", is another example of this administrations disregard for the human life this country has expended defending against a religious based enemy attempting to destroy us.
I do believe that we should "vacate the premises" but I have no illusions what so ever of the Taliban and Al-Quieda returning to a land that has harbored them for a thousand years.
The so-called diplomats, bureaucrats, political whores can't go off script even if the script is absolutley insane, diabolical, fails every measure of common-sense. Prop up the butchering, corrupt Karzai types using our warriors as sacrificial pawns...for what? Teach a pig to fly??...despicable as it gets.
Harry it is easy to teach a pig to fly. You do it the same way you teach a terrorist to fly. Load them onto a C 130 fly over Afghanistan open the rear door. Just as Jesus had the legion leave a man and go with the pigs. Terrorist will do the same, you just have to have the faith of a mustard seed.