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A Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Thinks Trump’s Exit Strategy Is a Huge Mistake

Few Americans have more on-the-ground foreign-policy experience than Ryan Crocker. Over a career spanning from the 1970s to the 2010s, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as filling important diplomatic roles in several other countries. He survived the U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut in 1983, and was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Crocker opposed President Trump’s presidential candidacy in 2016, and has recently become an outspoken critic of his administration’s Afghanistan strategy. Intelligencer spoke with Crocker about why he thinks Trump’s attempt to end the conflict that has come to be known as the “forever war” is so misguided.

Q: You’ve expressed some pretty grave concerns about the tentative peace framework being negotiated between the U.S. and the Taliban — without the Afghan government. Why do you think these talks may be a mistake?

A: The Taliban has insisted for the last decade and a half or so that it is always ready to sit down with the U.S., but not with the Afghan government in the room, which they style as an illegitimate puppet of the occupying force — us. After a decade and a half of saying we won’t talk under those terms, we have now conceded the point. And without knowing anything at all about the policy process in Washington, I think the symbolism is pretty clear. The only conceivable reason we would do this is because we’re done in Afghanistan, and we’re going to want to try to get the best terms we can. It completely delegitimizes the Afghan government, and that is very, very dangerous...

from New York Magazine


Ambassador Crocker served as U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon from 1990-1993; Kuwait from 1994-1997; Syria from 1998-2001; Iraq from 2007-2009; and Afghanistan from 2011-2012.

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