Views Of Success In Afghanistan

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American experts on Afghanistan, Afghan politicians and ordinary Afghans respond to the question: What would success look like in Afghanistan?


Which view do you agree with, or disagree with; do you have a different view of success in Afghanistan? Share Your Opinion

Sima Samar

Sima Samar i i
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Sima Samar
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Chairwoman of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and medical doctor

"I think the success in Afghanistan would be, first of all, to bring a human security for the people who live in Afghanistan. Not only physical security, I think that the people should have mental security also, in terms of they have to feel that their children are going to school and that there is a good quality of school and they can come back home and they are safe, nobody will kidnap them on the way and nobody will kill them by suicide attacks or any other roadside bombs. And they have to feel secure that, if they feel sick, there is accessibility to a hospital and good quality health care in the country. And also, they should feel safe and secure in terms of, they do have food for next month, or next year, or not only that he ate with his family tonight, or she ate with his family tonight and then they don't have anything for tomorrow."


Andrew Exum

Andrew Exum i i
Andrea Hsu
Andrew Exum
Andrea Hsu

Fellow with the Center for a New American Security. Served as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also as a civilian adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal

"Success in Afghanistan means a state that's inhospitable towards transnational terror groups. That means that the state of Afghanistan needs to look a certain way. It needs to have a government that's perceived as legitimate by its people, and when I say legitimate I mean that in a relative sense. That means that existing institutions need to be perceived as preferable towards alternatives such as the Taliban. That also means that the government needs to be, to some degree, inclusive — that it needs to represent all factions within Afghanistan. And then you need to have strong institutions. You need to have a state that's capable of creating revenue and that you need a state that has strong security institutions, specifically the army, the police and the intelligence services."


Austin Long

Austin Long
Courtesy of Austin Long

Assistant professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University

"I would define success in Afghanistan as al-Qaida has no more presence in the future, with a smaller footprint than they have now, which according to the National Security Adviser is 100 or fewer guys, no senior leadership, no bases to launch attacks against the United States. That's a success."












Said Tayeb Jawad

Said Jawad i i
Paul J. Richards/Getty Images
Said Jawad
Paul J. Richards/Getty Images

Afghan ambassador to the United States

"The definition of victory or success depends on what resources we have at our disposal. Historically, the mission in Afghanistan has been under-resourced, and therefore the definition of victory has been readjusted many times, and it's been reduced and further reduced continuously. And our goals as far as Afghans are concerned are very modest. Victory and security front for us means enabling Afghan security forces to defend Afghan people and enabling the Afghan government to provide services and protection to the Afghan citizen. Economically, victory for us, means reducing the 40 percent employment to an acceptable level, rebuilding Afghanistan infrastructure to the prewar condition or, at least, to a condition comparable to our neighbors. Politically, victory means finishing our journey to build a pluralistic and civic society in society, to ensure the basic human rights of Afghan women and children, and not to backtrack from the journey that we have started because if you do backtrack we will be emboldening the extremists, both in Afghanistan and in the region. Victory, politically for Afghans, means delivering to the wishes of 78 percent of the Afghans who think that democracy is the best form of governance in Afghanistan. "


Patricia DeGennaro

Patricia DeGennaro i i
Courtesy of Patricia DeGennaro
Patricia DeGennaro
Courtesy of Patricia DeGennaro

Policy adviser to Hamid Karzai in 2008, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute

"I think I would define success if we could get back, at least somewhat, to the point the country was before 1973 where there was a fair amount of peace in the area, and also their own ability to provide some services to the people. But in addition to that I would work extremely hard with Pakistan and India to reconcile some of their geopolitical concerns because that seems to be fueling a lot of the conflict in the area. So that also has to be addressed."








Ali Ahmad Jalali

Ali Ahmad Jalali i i
Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press
Ali Ahmad Jalali
Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press

Former Afghan interior minister, currently a professor at the National Defense University in Washington

"I think the success, the key to success, in Afghanistan [is] to see a government there that can be trusted by the population, that can deliver services to people, that can protect the population and control its territory — that's a success."











Shukria Barakzai

Shukria Barakzai i i
Tomas Munita/Associated Press
Shukria Barakzai
Tomas Munita/Associated Press

Member of Afghan Parliament

"American success is Afghan success, no doubt. For that, we need to cooperate and coordinate our effort to be more on a positive and effective way, delivering services for the Afghan people, understanding Afghanistan, and respecting all those worse and good realities that we do have in our country. I hope that the new Afghanistan new age should start with a new page, and this new page must have the great value of democracy. For a country like Afghanistan, we really need to keep democracy as a value, and to support democratic process for Afghanistan rather than political, dirty compromise."





Max Boot

Max Boot i i
Courtesy of Max Boot
Max Boot
Courtesy of Max Boot

Senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

"Success would be an Afghanistan able to defend itself, to prevent its own territory from being used as a haven for terrorism or international instability. Essentially, I think, there's a high and a low estimate of success. The low estimate is what Afghanistan looked like for the first couple years after 2001 when the Taliban were effectively chased out. Even though there was no effective governance, it was still not a threat to international security as it could easily become in the future. The high end, or the best case scenario of what we could hope for is what Afghanistan looked like prior to the Soviet invasion of 1979 when it was actually pretty peaceful and stable, and growing democratically and economically. The world conjured up by the best-selling novel The Kite Runner."




Ronald Neumann

Ambassador Ronald Neumann i i
Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images
Ambassador Ronald Neumann
Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan 2005-07, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy

"I think success for us is an Afghan government that can last, and stand on its own and fight. And that, in a sense, is victory for the Afghan people too, because I think it gives them the strength to keep rallying and keep moving forward. In a normal military sense, when you have a complete end of fighting, that might be a lot further off. People get tied up with old uses of words like 'victory'; troops come home; banners fly; war's over. Insurgencies rarely end with that clarity."





Thomas Hammes

Col. Thomas Hammes i i
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Col. Thomas Hammes
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Senior military fellow at the National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies

"I wouldn't define success by Afghanistan; I would define success by the region. Success is Pakistan that is making progress, that is improving economically and is developing politically past kind of the feudal era it's in, that is beginning to build the civil institutions that someday will be able to take over for the army, but not for a decade or more. Afghanistan, then, is functioning as Afghanistan largely has with some type of rentier state in the center, a loose center with loose connections to the periphery. They control, probably, the major cities, the ring road, and, with luck, the customs entry points. To think they're going control their territory or control their borders is way beyond the capability of an Afghan government."






Susan Rice

Susan Rice i i
Stan Hoda/Getty Images
Susan Rice
Stan Hoda/Getty Images

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

"It is essential, indeed, to U.S. national security interests that Afghanistan not be able to serve as a safe haven for extremists and terrorists who would launch attacks again, against the United States. To accomplish that, obviously an Afghan government with the capacity to provide for its own security and to provide with legitimacy a basic measure of well-being to its people is very important in support of that goal."









Abdul Wahid

24-year-old student studying agriculture at Kabul University

"I think that the only way of success is that all Muslims of world including Afghanistan implement a 100 percent Islamic system. They won't succeed without it, because we are Muslims and God has sent as a book that explains all the economic, military and political systems and we should base all of our activities on it."


Juma Khan

54-year-old pomegranate seller in Kabul

"Success in Afghanistan is having a president who would serve the country and that people would stand behind him and support him. The government should also eliminate bribery and cruelty from the country, and civil servants who do wrong and their supervisors should be punished according to the law."


Haji Jamaluddin Sediqyar

Afghan businessman since 1973

"Success in Afghanistan is a sound economy and that all Afghan people should have work. If someone is jobless, then even God doesn't like him. The more business improves in Afghanistan the more people will be able to get around."

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