Kerry’s Afghanistan Speech

October 27, 2009 By Jordan Smith

Upon returning from his most recent trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Sen. Kerry offered his suggestions on how to proceed in the region, stressing the role of development and diplomacy in achieving long-term results.  Speaking yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations’ DC office, he warned of the risks of putting more troops on the ground before good-governance is established and before development capacity is increased:

We do not yet have the critical guarantees of governance and development capacity—the other two legs of counterinsurgency. And I have serious concerns about the ability to produce effective Afghan forces to partner with…

During the speech, he called for renewed partnerships with Afghans and local leaders, and urged the international community to coordinate donor efforts and develop a national plan for Afghanistan.  Kerry highlighted a strengthened civilian assistance strategy to reinforce donor coordination and make aid as successful as possible:

Hand in hand with better governance, we need to promote basic sustainable economic development, which persuades Afghans we’re on their side. That means the international community must assemble and resource a real civilian strategy to provide a base for a stable Afghanistan. Until now, donors have lacked coordination, discipline, and a national plan.

Citing a primary goal of winning the Afghan people over, Kerry stressed not only good government, but also basic economic development in order for the US and our allies to leave a legacy of economic sustainability.  While America can lead the efforts in Afghanistan, Kerry cautioned that we cannot go it alone, and we need renewed partnerships and unified commitments if we are to be successful.  With a coordinated civilian assistance plan reflecting a role for development and diplomacy , Kerry finds that we will be able to build sustainability in Afghanistan and the neighboring region.