Senators Rand Paul and Maggie Hassan held a Subcommittee hearing yesterday about our involvement in Afghanistan, spurred by the Washington Post series of Afghanistan Papers. I joined Inspector General John Sopko, Ambassador/General Doug Lute and Colonel Daniel Davis in discussing where we’ve succeeded and where we’ve failed.
The gist: We rid Afghanistan of the Al Qaeda elements that attacked us, but failed to build stability. We focused on building central bureaucracy without enabling the government of Afghanistan to take care of people at local levels. We focused on accountability instead of delivery and spent the vast bunk of our money on contractors, consultants, security and accountants before it got to Afghanistan. With the government not delivering benefits at local levels, the Taliban stepped into the gap. It’s time for us to come home, but also to provide funding for local efforts by the Afghan government.
Also talked about Pakistan: When we focused on Al Qaeda, cooperation was excellent. As we expended our demands to groups like the Taliban and others, our interests and theirs began to diverge.
This bigger lesson is that America must lead with diplomacy. The effort to “eliminate terrorists and those who harbor them” will never be achieved by military means; it will be achieved by capable governments delivering services to their citizens. We need more diplomacy, not more interventions. And, we must fund American diplomacy to lead.
You can read my whole testimony here:
Or, see a Washignton Examiner set of excerpts of each of us here.