In his opening statement, Ambassador Crocker said, “As you know, our core goal in Afghanistan, and Pakistan, is to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qa’ida, and to deny it safe haven in those countries. Our efforts to pursue this goal are focused on three mutually reinforcing surges – military, civilian, and diplomatic.” Ambassador Crocker continued to reinforce this point, saying “I will maintain our efforts to support Afghanistan’s long-term reconstruction, sustainable economic development, and strengthening of key Afghan institutions critical to ensuring that transition is sustainable and irreversible.” This focus on sustainable development that secures Afghanistan’s institutions aims to foster long-term stability.
During intensive questioning on the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Ambassador Crocker remained firm on his position that the U.S. needed to achieve “sustainable stability” in Afghanistan. According to Ambassador Crocker, achieving “sustainable stability” will require continued commitment from the U.S. in order to sustainably develop Afghanistan. Ambassador Crocker cautioned that failing to remain committed to Afghanistan’s development would negate U.S. efforts over the past 10 years and would cause Afghanistan to, once again, become a direct threat to U.S. national security. He used the U.S. failure to remain engaged in Afghanistan’s development after the 1980’s, after its involvement in a proxy war with the Soviet Union, as the primary example of this danger.
Ambassador Crocker’s long experience in frontline states makes his perspective on how to utilize our civilian tools to achieve America’s strategic objectives an especially important one. He has served as ambassador to Pakistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, and Lebanon. As ambassador to Iraq, he worked closely with General Petraeus to ensure a balanced strategy of investing in development and diplomacy alongside defense.