The Afghan ambassador this week sounded worried about a premature U.S. troop withdrawal from his country, as policymakers in Washington debated the future of the U.S. military commitment to a nation many consider the central front in the war on terrorism.
“You have the option of leaving, but that’s not what this great nation is about,” Ambassador Said Jawad said Monday on a visit to Little Rock, Ark, where he spoke at the Clinton School of Public Service.
Mr. Jawad implied that the United States failed to concentrate on the war in Afghanistan during the Bush administration because Washington made the war in Iraq its priority.
“If you were there in full force over eight years, the Taliban would be finished,” he said.
The United States toppled the Taliban in 2001 because the radical Islamists sheltered Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network.
Now resurgent Taliban attacks are claiming an increasing number of American lives as President Obama reconsiders U.S. options. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is urgently calling for up to 40,000 more troops, but other advisers such as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are pressing Mr. Obama to scale back U.S. ground troops and concentrate on unmanned drone aerial attacks against al Qaeda forces hunkered down in Pakistan.
Mr. Jawad endorsed Gen. McChrystal’s call for more troops.
“There are not enough boots on the ground,” he said.
Last week in Washington, Mr. Jawad warned against adopting the Biden strategy in Afghanistan.
“Fighting al Qaeda with remote-controlled weapons will fail,” he said in an address at the Smithsonian Institution.
“This is a crucial time in the history of Afghanistan and the United States that will test our determination to fight a brutal enemy, terrorism and improve the lives of the Afghan people,” he said.
FRIEND OF CHINA’S
The Chinese ambassador this week praised the new U.S. ambassador to China, calling him a “friend of China” despite his criticism of Beijing’s brutal suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations 20 years ago.
“I think he is a friend of China, no matter what he said in the past,” Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong said of Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr., the former Republican governor of Utah.
Mr. Huntsman, who speaks Chinese and served as ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush, participated in a demonstration outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington in 1989 to protest the Chinese communist government’s decision to crush the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square.
Mr. Zhou, who spoke at the University of Utah on Monday, noted that he and Mr. Huntsman have developed a friendship that began with his visit to Salt Lake City three years ago, according to reports in the Salt Lake City Tribune and the Deseret News.
“With him being ambassador to China, I know we’ll be able to make more progress in our relations,” Mr. Zhou said.
On other issues, the Chinese diplomat said his country supports Iran’s nuclear program for civilian energy.
“We are opposed to the possession on the part of Iran of nuclear weapons,” he said. “On the other hand, I think we support their peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
Mr. Zhou also defended China’s human rights record but insisted that the “right to subsistence … is much more important than anything else.”
He also claimed China has a right to censor the Internet to ensure that “people can get useful information.” However, he added, “There are things that are not useful [on the Internet] and even destructive.”
Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.