Afghan Ambassador Calls for More U.S. Troops

News & Politics

From the stage of a synagogue, Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States last night called on the U.S. to supply more forces and a greater commitment to his nation, which has recently seen an abrupt upturn in insurgent attacks by members of the Taliban movement. At a an event taking place at the 6th & I Synagogue, a historic Washington, D.C., venue, Ambassador Said T. Jawad and his wife, Shamim, answered questions from Steve Coll, author of the Pulitzer prize-winning book, Ghost Wars, which chronicles the CIA's involvement in the Afghan civil war. Coll currently leads the New America Foundation.

"The NATO troops are not fighting as hard as they should," said Jawad, who also bemoaned the current capacity of U.S. and international forces.

Though Jawad's assessment of the situation in Afghanistan almost certainly stems from his first-hand experience of events in his country, his call for a greater U.S. commitment comes just days before Sen. Barack Obama, in the heat of the presidential campaign, is expected to arrive in Afghanistan on a Senate fact-finding mission. Obama contends that the war in Iraq diverted U.S. attention from where he believes it is most needed: Afghanistan.

Yesterday CNN reported, "Since May, the deaths of U.S. and allied troops have far outpaced the toll in Iraq. On Thursday, the toll in Afghanistan was 21, compared with six in Iraq."

Asked by Coll if a larger footprint by U.S. troops would serve to breed resentment among the Afghan people, Jawad emphatically said no. "The real intruders in Afghanistan are the Taliban," he said. "We are very pragmatic ... the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is the most important hope. The concern in Afghanistan is not how long [is the U.S.] going to be here; it's that [the U.S.] will leave before institutions are in place."

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