Susan Rice: Stopping Al-Qaida Critical To U.S.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Who does the Obama administration see as the enemy? Earlier today, I put that question to Susan Rice. She's the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
SUSAN RICE: Well, Michele, we view the enemy as al-Qaida and their extremist affiliates that seek safe haven in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Taliban also pose a direct threat to the government of Afghanistan, whose stability and security is important to our national security.
NORRIS: General McChrystal has said that this is a uniquely complex environment, that would apply to the question of who exactly is the enemy. It would also apply, it seems, to the question of strategy in this part of the world. If you had the length of an elevator ride to explain how Afghanistan fits in U.S. strategic interest - just a short period of time - what exactly would you say to simplify that?
RICE: Afghanistan is a place from which the 9/11 attacks were launched against the United States. It remains an area where al-Qaida and its extremist affiliates are active. So, preventing al-Qaida and the Taliban, its extremist allies, from obtaining safe haven and from having the ability to use Afghanistan and Pakistan as launching pads for attacks against us and our allies is a critical national security interest.
NORRIS: You mentioned Afghanistan and Pakistan. What do you say to people who argue that the U.S. should be putting more of its effort and its focus on the latter country, on Pakistan?
RICE: Well indeed, that's what President Obama has done since the review of our strategy that was conducted in March. We have operated on the assumption that Pakistan and Afghanistan and the challenges they pose are inextricably linked. And so, we have a very robust approach to Pakistan, trying to bolster its stability, its democracy, its ability to deliver effectively for its people and to stamp out al-Qaida and the extremist elements that are operating there. Similarly in Afghanistan, the stability of the Afghan state, the ability and credibility of the government to deliver for its people is also critical. So, we're investing in both in a very serious way.
NORRIS: Ambassador Rice, always good to talk to you. Thank you very much.
RICE: Good to be with you, Michele.
NORRIS: Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. You can hear more of my interview with Ambassador Rice on tomorrow's program.
SIEGEL: Our special hour on Afghanistan continues in a moment. We'll also continue following the breaking story about the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas. And again, here's what we know: Twelve people were killed and at least 31 were injured. One confirmed shooter is dead. He is Major Nidal Malik Hasan. And we'll bring you updates of this story as we know them. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
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