By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012 – Afghanistan is on the right trajectory to move to
the next stage in its development, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C.
Crocker said yesterday in an interview with NPR’s Renee Montagne.
Nearly a year to the day of his July 25 appointment last year, the career
diplomat said he is stepping down at the end of this month due to health
“What I'll miss the most is the chance to see Afghanistan move to the next
stage of its development at every level -- economic, governance and security --
because I think they're on the right trajectory,” Crocker said.
“I felt we had a pretty good last year in setting that up,” he added. “I
would have liked to have been part of the process of seeing it through. I'm
confident they will get there. It would have been nice to be on deck to watch
them do it.”
Crocker was the sixth ambassador to Afghanistan since 2001. He had retired
from the Foreign Service in April 2009 after a 37-year career and was serving as
dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M
University. In April 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Crocker to serve as
the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, and Crocker came out of retirement to
accept the position. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in June
Crocker served as ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009 after three years as
ambassador to Pakistan.
He joined the National War College faculty as international affairs advisor
in 2003, and from May to August of that year, he was in Baghdad as the first
director of governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority.
From 2001 to 2003, he was deputy assistant secretary of state for Near
Eastern affairs. He served as ambassador to Syria from 1998 to 2001, ambassador
to Kuwait from 1994 to 1997, and Ambassador to Lebanon from 1990 to 1993. Since
joining the Foreign Service in 1971, he has had assignments in Iran, Qatar,
Iraq, Egypt and Washington.
Crocker was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut during the Israeli
invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the bombings of the embassy and the Marine
barracks in 1983.
As U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, one of Crocker’s accomplishments was to
help to secure international pledges of aid worth $16 billion at a donor’s
conference held this month in Tokyo.
“The Tokyo conference and its outcome, I think, is highly significant because
it produced a document in which the international community accepts certain
obligations to provide funding, and the Afghan government accepts certain
obligations to fight corruption, to build institutions,” Crocker said.
As the international community sees the Afghan government deliver on its own
obligations, the ambassador added, “both the incentive and the pressure on [the]
international community to provide the promised assistance simply
According to news reports, Afghanistan agreed to new conditions to deal with
internal corruption, and donors agreed to hold a follow-up conference in 2014 in
the United Kingdom.
Crocker said he found it “highly encouraging” that Afghan President Hamid
Karzai has created a 14-point decree for all ministries to follow as they begin
to deliver on their side of the undertaking. “The way he frames it now is that
the international community has done everything that Afghanistan could
conceivably ask,” Crocker said. “It is now up to the Afghans to put their own
house in order.”
The ambassador also gave three reasons why he expects no civil war in
Afghanistan after NATO’s combat drawdown is complete at the end of 2014.
“When I got there at the beginning of 2002, it looked like Berlin in 1945,”
he said, “and that was because of the Afghan civil war. No one wants to go back
A second point, he said, is that “minority groups clearly see their interests
[in] having a voice in national decisions.”
“No major minority politician is thinking in terms of separatism,” he said.
“It's all [about] how can they be more, rather than less, involved in
A third point is the enemy itself, Crocker said.
“The Taliban and their allies are equal opportunity killers: Pashtuns,
Tajiks, Uzbeks. … In a sense, an enemy who indiscriminately kills all Afghans
regardless of community or ethnicity or political affiliation has actually been
a unifying factor,” he said.
Crocker’s final impression of the Afghan capital of Kabul, he said, is of “a
vibrant, bustling city with shops open, streets crowded, horrendous traffic --
which some would consider a problem, but frankly I see as a sign of confidence
in the security and stability of the capital.”
There's a long way to go, he said. “But from the devastated ghost town of
2002 to the Kabul of today, it's an extraordinary achievement,” he added. “And I
leave with the sense of a city that is very, very much alive and moving into the