Clinton, Panetta Discuss Cooperation in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2011 — The secu­ri­ty mis­sion in Afghanistan is mak­ing progress, but much more needs to be done on gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment, two top Cab­i­net offi­cials said at Fort McNair here today.

Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton and Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta said in a dis­cus­sion at the Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty that the con­flict in Afghanistan can be suc­cess­ful if all aspects of gov­ern­ment work togeth­er. For­mer CNN cor­re­spon­dent Frank Ses­no, now at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, mod­er­at­ed the discussion. 

A total of 1,626 Amer­i­cans have died in Afghanistan in the past decade, Panet­ta said. The largest loss of U.S. ser­vice mem­bers’ lives in one inci­dent in Afghanistan occurred Aug. 6, as 38 U.S. and Afghan per­son­nel died when a CH-47 Chi­nook heli­copter went down in the east­ern part of the country. 

“There are a lot of our men and women that have put their lives on the line on the mis­sion that we’re involved with there,” the sec­re­tary said. 

That mis­sion — to dis­rupt, dis­man­tle and defeat al-Qai­da — remains cru­cial to U.S. secu­ri­ty, and Afghanistan must nev­er again be a safe haven for ter­ror­ist groups to attack the Unit­ed States, Panet­ta said. 

“I think we’ve made good progress on that,” he said. “We are mak­ing very good progress in terms of secu­ri­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the south and south­west. Those are dif­fi­cult areas. We’ve now got to try to improve the sit­u­a­tion in the east.” 

Over­all, the sit­u­a­tion is doing much bet­ter, and coali­tion forces have begun tran­si­tion­ing areas to the Afghan gov­ern­ment, Panet­ta said. 

“We’ve got to make sure that the Afghan gov­ern­ment is pre­pared to not only gov­ern, but to help secure that coun­try in the long run,” he added. 

Clin­ton said Pres­i­dent Oba­ma made the deci­sion to go after the Tal­iban soon after tak­ing office in 2009 because he believed the Tal­iban had momen­tum on their side. The pres­i­dent ordered addi­tion­al troops into Afghanistan and called for an increase in civil­ian experts to serve there. 

“I ordered and ful­filled the more than tripling of the civil­ians on the ground, from 320 to more than 1,125,” Clin­ton said. “We put in a lot of effort to try to sta­bi­lize, and then reverse, what we saw as a dete­ri­o­rat­ing sit­u­a­tion. I think we both believe that we are now at a place where we can begin the tran­si­tion and do so in a respon­si­ble way.” 

Any change in Afghanistan will require some form of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, Clin­ton said. 

“We know that there has to be a polit­i­cal res­o­lu­tion along­side the mil­i­tary gains and sac­ri­fice that we have put in, along­side the sac­ri­fice and suf­fer­ing of the Afghan peo­ple,” she said. “But we want this to be, as we say often, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.” 

Clin­ton said the Afghan peo­ple are learn­ing about democ­ra­cy and the respon­si­bil­i­ties inher­ent in a democ­ra­cy. She point­ed to Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai’s deci­sion to not seek a third term as a “very strong sig­nal that there has to be an active, dynam­ic polit­i­cal process to choose his successor.” 

Pak­istan is of para­mount impor­tance to sta­bil­i­ty in the region, the sec­re­tary of state noted. 

“We think it is in the long-term inter­est of Pak­istan for us to work through what are very dif­fi­cult prob­lems in that rela­tion­ship,” Clin­ton said. “This is not any­thing new. We’ve had a chal­leng­ing rela­tion­ship with Pak­istan going back decades.” 

The Pak­ista­nis are part­ners with the Unit­ed States, but like most nations, they don’t agree with every­thing the Unit­ed States does, Clin­ton said. 

“They don’t always see the world the way we see the world, and they don’t always coop­er­ate with us on what we think — and I’ll be very blunt about this — is in their inter­ests,” she said. “It’s not like we are com­ing to Pak­istan and encour­ag­ing them to do things that will be bad for Pak­istan. But they often don’t fol­low what our log­ic is as we make those cas­es to them, so it takes a lot of dialogue.” 

The Unit­ed States has no choice but to main­tain a rela­tion­ship with Pak­istan, because “we’re fight­ing a war there,” Panet­ta said. 

“Because we are fight­ing al-Qai­da there, and they do give us … some coop­er­a­tion in that effort,” he added. 

Pak­istan is an impor­tant force in that region of the world, Panet­ta said, in part, because “they do hap­pen to be a nuclear pow­er that has nuclear weapons, and we have to be con­cerned about what hap­pens with those nuclear weapons.” 

Those are just some of the rea­sons to main­tain the rela­tion­ship with Pak­istan, Panet­ta said. 

“It is com­pli­cat­ed,” the sec­re­tary acknowl­edged. “It’s going to be ups and downs.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →