CHANGE TO BELIEVE IN?
The Afghan ambassador on Tuesday welcomed the change of command of U.S. forces in his country and hoped that the move signals an effective new American strategy to defeat Taliban militants who are terrorizing the countryside.
“It’s a new strategy. It’s a new team,” Ambassador Said T. Jawad told a forum on Afghanistan at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “We are looking forward to working with [Lt. Gen. Stanley A.] McChrystal.”
Mr. Jawad said he was astonished by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ surprise decision to remove Gen. David McKiernan, who commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan for the past 11 months, but pleased with the decision to replace him with Gen. McChrystal, a former Green Beret and ex-commander of the special operations forces in Iraq.
“I was surprised by the quick removal of General McKiernan,” Mr. Jawad said.
In Afghanistan on Tuesday, the new U.S. ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, presented his diplomatic credentials to President Hamid Karzai.
Mr. Jawad, commenting on a new Carnegie Endowment report, rejected suggestions from some analysts that the United States or the Afghan government open reconciliation talks with the Taliban.
He called such talks a “weak policy option,” adding that it would be effective only “if we talk from a position of strength.”
Mr. Jawad said the Taliban, the extremist Islamist movement overthrown by U.S. forces in 2001, controls territory in the southern part of the country through brute force and terror.
“To them success means beheading a teacher or planting a land mine in the road,” he said. “They even claim success when they lose 30 or 40 men.”
Mr. Jawad said for the government to succeed, it must recruit more soldiers and train more police to provide security and services. In one recent poll, Afghans expressed dismay with the government because of its weakness and corruption but disapprove of a return to Taliban rule by a margin of more than 80 percent.
The new Carnegie Endowment report by Ashley J. Tellis calls reconciliation “the worst approach at this time.”
“Promoting reconciliation with the Taliban is one idea that has reappeared - even in the [Obama] administration’s own White Paper on U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Mr. Tellis said in the report, titled “Reconciling With the Taliban?”
That policy “is destined to fail so long as key Taliban constituents are convinced that military victory in Afghanistan is inevitable,” he said. “Any effort at reconciliation today will, therefore, undermine the credibility of American power and the success of the Afghan mission.”
President Obama is expected to nominate the former wife of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to serve as ambassador in Copenhagen, according to reports from Denmark.
Laurie Susan Fulton, a Washington lawyer with the firm of Williams and Connolly, would be the first female U.S. ambassador to Denmark since 1968 if confirmed by the Senate.
The Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten reported that Mr. Obama is expected to announce the nomination this week. It added that Ms. Fulton has Danish roots through her great-great-grandfather.
Ms. Fulton was an early supporter of Mr. Obama. She was married to Mr. Daschle when he first ran for Congress in 1978. They divorced in 1982.
Mr. Daschle won his House seat from South Dakota and served four terms before running for the Senate in 1986. He was defeated in 2004 for a fourth term in the Senate.
Mr. Obama nominated him to serve as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, but he withdrew because of tax problems.
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