Ronald E. Neumann: War in Afghanistan: Costs of Failure and Costs of Success

March 28, 2012 1:26:58
Kaltura Video

Ronald Neumann, former US ambassador to Afghanistan, will discuss what is at stake, what may be possible and the political and strategic costs of both continuation and withdrawal. March, 2012.


>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  So, first I'm Melvyn Levitsky, Professor of International Policy and Practice here at the Ford School and a former American Diplomat as is our speaker today.  Let me first thank you all for coming and I want to thank the International Policy Center and the Center for Middle East and North African Studies of the International Institute for sponsoring this event.  You know our subject today is Afghanistan; it's obviously a subject of some currency.  We're now in our eleventh year of our-- of the war in Afghanistan.  Just a few comments, you know, from afar if one reads the popular press or watches CNN, Afghanistan looks like the mother of all messes.  What the average, I think, informed citizen probably reads or hears about is incident after incident of American or NATO troops committing acts of violence against Afghan or Pakistani citizens and civilians.  And gendering the hate of the population of those two countries of the corruption of the Afghan Government, of the ineptitude and lack of readiness of U.S. and NATO trained Afghan Military Police forces, of the fact that the countries illegal production of opium and heroin may outstrip its formal economy and of the disaster that seems to await the withdrawal of foreign forces.  So, the average citizen I think could not help but be pessimistic about the prospects for the region, this is reflected and yet we saw yesterday in the New York Times a poll that shows support for the war in Afghanistan and support-- certainly declining in support for pulling out even earlier than what the President has said to be rising.  So, of course there's a different, there's a different narrative.  There's a narrative that points to the progress that's been made in Afghanistan to the freeing a bunch of the country from the vicious rule of the Taliban to the improved status of women in Afghan society.  And to a political process flawed though it may be that promotes agreement and consensus necessary possibly for future stability.  And still others look to our history when the United States helped expel the Soviet Union, Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1998 after a ten year war and then promptly kind of turned tail, forgot about Afghanistan and we know what essentially the result was there, the Taliban takeover, protection for al-Qaeda forces there and a source of terrorism and anti U.S. actions.  So, the problem for us is how do we make sense of these-- this complex series of currents and developments that make up the Afghan scene in order to determine the best course of action for our country and for the world for that matter.  So, to help us understand and to provoke our thought on what can and should be done we have one of the country's leading experts on Afghanistan; a person who's not only studied Afghanistan and knows its history, but who has had a leading role in formulating and executing U.S. policy toward it.  And that person is Ambassador Ronald Neumann.  Let me put a footnote in, little asterisk.  So, I've know Ambassador Neumann for a long period of time.  I'll call him Ron for the rest of this introduction.  But, before I knew him I knew of his father.  His father Robert Neumann was a fabled and storied American Diplomat, who by the way served as Ambassador to Afghanistan himself for six years during the late 60's and early 70's.  And he was also Ambassador to Morocco and Saudi Arabia.  He had-- his father had an interesting story, father was born in Austria, studied in Europe, was imprisoned by the Nazis and spent two years in a concentration camp, was released, came to the United States, became a U.S. citizen.  Before he became a U.S. citizen he actually served in the U.S. Army during the Second World War and then got his PhD from where--

>> Ambassador Neumann:  University of Michigan.

>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  He wrote it writing a thesis, which Ron described as rather dry, but kind of interesting in a way on extradition policy.  He was talking some Nazis that had been-- the issue of Nazis being extradited to the United States to be tried.  Ron himself-- another footnote, before he served as a U.S. Army officer in Vietnam spent I think three months with his father in Afghanistan, which I believe was the first experience that he had in Afghanistan.  So, it's kind of ironic isn't it, that things kind of develop so that he became Ambassador after a long period of time.  Ron Neumann, Ambassador Ron Neumann is now President of the American Academy of Diplomacy.  It's an organization, which I'm in as well.  This is an organization of about two hundred of us who are formally Presidentially appointed either Ambassador or in some cases high level civilian people involved in foreign affairs, trying to promote foreign affairs, trying to promote resources for the foreign affairs account for foreign aid, for the running of the State Department, trying to work against things that are going on now, which are large cuts in the State Department in the foreign affairs budget.  He has been Ambassador three times in Algeria, in Bahrain and finally as I mentioned to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from July 2005 to August-- April 2007.  I should mention that although he was Ambassador there for two years, he also has been back several times in 2010 and 2011.  So, his knowledge and his contacts are quite current.  But, in addition to that Ron has always been one of-- always was one of the State Departments leading experts in Middle East affairs.  He served in Baghdad from 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then as the Embassy of Baghdad's principle interlocutor with a multilateral command.  He was Chief Admission in Manama, Bahrain as I mentioned.  He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Near East Affairs in the late 90's.  He was Deputy Chief Admission at Abu Dhabi United Arab [Inaudible] and Yemen.  So, he's had a wealth of experience in the Middle East and he has written a book, which I recommend to all of you.  It's a really good read and it's a book that recounts not only his personal experience there, but is very thoughtful in terms of the issues that we are considering with regard to Afghanistan today.  So, I would-- this is not a book sale-- sell system, but I would recommend this everybody.  I have it bookmarked myself and talk to my class about it.  In any case, we're so pleased that-- for the opportunity to hear Ron's views on Afghanistan on a topic of such relevance today.  So, if you'll all join me in welcoming Ron to the--


[Applause ]


>> Here's your water.

>> Ambassador Neumann:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Now, does this thing work if I walk, move way.  Can you all hear?  My wife has sometimes told me that when I become deeply thoughtful or at least I'm desperate for thoughts that my voice will fall.  So, if that happens and I'm warned the acoustics are not always great in here.  So, if you get to the point where in the back row you can't hear me if you will wave or you know, make some verbal gestures, I will endeavor to get my voice back up again and you'll hear.  Let me start by saying first of all that I speak clearly only for myself.  I'm no longer in the Government.  You may notice some things that will make that clearer as we go along.  Nor do I speak for the American Academy of Diplomacy.  I'm speaking entirely for myself, having said that, I do not pose as a completely disinterested observer of Afghanistan.  I have spent a fair amount of time there as Ambassador Levitsky said.  It's easier to get the man out of Afghanistan than Afghanistan out of the man.  I have a certain commitment to what we're doing.  So, I want to get that out in the open.  What I want to talk to you about is essentially first of all, my view of what happens if we fail, because when you look the popular mood is tired, there's no question, people want out.  But, that's doesn't-- I mean that may tell you that eventually you'll have no choice, but it does not tell you that it is wise judgment.  Just being tired is akin to your children telling you daddy I want to stop the car.  I only got fifty miles to go.  Daddy, I want to stop the car.  It is not an intellectual discourse.  It may be a correct view or it may not, but it is not ipso facto proof of what you should be doing.  That needs to be judged against the cost of failure and against the probability of success.  I want to talk a little bit with you about what the current policy is because I find that the current policy is very poorly understood by Americans.  And it is also very poorly understood by Afghans.  And since the Americans don't understand, you know, you can be a little forgiving that many Afghans have a lot of doubts about what we are doing.  And then I want to talk to you a little bit about where we are now because Afghanistan is a very complex place.  Almost any bottom line judgment made in simple bumper sticker sentences is wrong, whether it's good or bad.  It is a place that is sufficiently complex that if you come to it with a fixed view, whatever that view is whether good or bad, you can without question find the pieces that will support your view.  It's much more difficult to challenge one's own views constantly and try to come to a bottom line.  Whether I will clarify your thinking I don't know, but I can probably raise your confusion to a higher level of detail. [Laughter] So, to start off with I think one has to start with the cost of failure, which will itself be a matter of some dispute.  But, it's the context in which one has to look at costs, costs in money, costs in lives, costs in the economy.  I see two very large dangers, one is geopolitical and the other is security to us.  The question-- the first question's what happens if we leave what I would say is prematurely, that is prematurely as before Afghanistan can at least keep from loosing on its own with some foreign support.  I think you get a civil war.  In fact, Afghans are talking more and more about civil war.  When I went back in 2011 I was really struck by how much the talk of civil war had gone up among Afghans and that was sort of a new notion in March of 2011.  By the time I went back in November again it was the watch word of every analyst who was paying attention to Afghanistan.  In that civil war I believe it will draw in the major external players, Pakistan, Iran, India, Russia, for the simple reason that all of them feel endangered by the potential of their non supporters winning.  That doesn't mean that any of them will have the support or the force to win, they'll just be able to keep the war going so that you will have a civil war that rolls on for quite a long time.  I don't think anybody knows how long, but Lebanon is an interesting example of a civil war that could go on a very, very long time with external support.  But, in the case of Afghanistan I think you have larger problems.  You have Afghanistan bordering the new republics that came out of the former Soviet Union.  You already have an Islamic movement, it was Pakistan.  You have had an Islamic insurgency in Tajikistan.  There is every reason to believe you will get those again whether they will be powerful or not I don't know.  You have a potential for regional destabilization.  Beyond that, you have the role of Pakistan.  Pakistan, which could be a separate lecture, but I won't do that I promise.  Pakistan lives with a paranoid fear of India.  To say it is paranoid is not to say it's wrong, you know, paranoids can have real enemies.  But in any event, Pakistan is desperately afraid of India.  And their view is that India will back the Northern Alliance Forces and that Pakistan will find itself surrounded by its quintessinal enemy.  And to prevent that Pakistan will back forces that are friendly to them, who in many cases look like the people we're fighting.  I-- Pakistan is also facing a great deal of extremism within Pakistan, which has grown and metastasized over the years.  I find it very unlikely that Pakistan will do a good job of clamping down on extremism in Pakistan while backing the near cousins of the same extremists in Afghanistan in a war.  That is really alarming.  Pakistan is a greater game in many ways that Afghanistan.  It's much larger, 154-55 billion or something like that, has nuclear weapons, which is sort of a bothersome issue.  But, to say it is a larger game is not to say that one can shift and deal with Pakistan instead of Afghanistan.  The two are interlinked.  In fact, it is the-- the main reason for the Pakistani tolerance of safe havens aside from the fact that they have some real military problems in dealing with it is that the Pakistanis are conflicted.  Their view is that we will fail.  That we will leave Afghanistan prematurely and that Afghanistan will collapse and that they have to be ready for the war after the war.  They may be right, they may be wrong, but that is their geostrategic view and their policies come out of that view of their interest.  And too often we want to talk about Pakistan, are they our friend?  Are they our enemy?  And they're a country with interests, some of which overlap with ours and some of which don't.  And we've had a lot of trouble dealing with that.  We alternate between everything is good and we're angry and repress.  We have to develop a little more articulated policy than that.  But, if we want to understand why they do things then we have to understand that it's partly conditioned on their view on whether we will succeed or fail.  So, what I see happening in a nutshell if we fail is that we have a very long civil war that if draws in outsiders that it worsens the extremism in Pakistan and it-- after that the consequences become very hard to tell.  It's just a really nasty massively destabilizing situation and a huge part of Central and Eastern Asia or South Asia.  And the second piece though is that we are still at war with people who brought us 9/11, who think they're at war with us.  It is difficult for one side to withdraw from a war if the other side doesn't agree that it's over.  It's really hard to do.  The Russians tried it, 1917 the Germans keep moving eastward.  That didn't work.  I don't know if there are any other examples of one side unilaterally deciding to quit a war, there may be somewhere, but it doesn't work very well.  Al-Qaeda as a force is battered.  It is fragmented to some extent, but it has considerable capacities for regeneration.  And we have to live with the idea that if a group which believes they are acting in God's purpose feels that they have now defeated the second super power, the Soviet Union have fallen, this is an enormous shot in the arm to reinvigorate them for the future.  How that plays out I don't know, but I find it a dangerous prospect, one which should not be lightly thrown aside.  So, the consequences of failure are large.  Now, consequences of failure are irrelevant if you have no prospect of success.  So, that doesn't answer the question by itself and I don't propose that it does, but it gives you a base point to start from at least my argument.  Secondly is the question, can we succeed?  And I would say-- first of all one has to say what is success?  We have not been very clear about it.  We have not been very good about the definition.  The Bush Administration success grew in terms of what we desired in democracy and in the state, but it did not grow with any proportion to the resources we've put into the country.  And this may be a place for a brief segue because one of the frequent discussion is, you've been doing this for eleven years, what does it take to tell you this is impossible?  Why don't you people quit?  And I would simply say that for the better part of nine of those-- eight and a half of those years we were not doing it.  We were playing at it with constantly inadequate resources.  We resourced just enough to keep from failure.  But, the last cable that I wrote-- last telegram that I wrote from Cabal in April of 2007 said, "We are not loosing the war now.  We could be loosing in a year.  We have no resource for-- we have no margin for surprise."  Just to give you a couple of comparative figures about that earlier period, when I went to Afghanistan we had 25 thousand troops there.  We had nearly 100 thousand in Iraq.  For comparison, Afghanistan is a slightly larger country than Iraq.  It has a slightly larger population than Iraq and it is a much harder operating environment because of the ruggedness of the terrain.  Iraqis mostly live in villages, which at least are cooperatively located on some kind of road.  Afghans tend to live in villages that are located way the hell and gone up some waddi that you have to walk up.  It is a much tougher operating environment and yet at a time when we already had 600 thousand Iraqis under arms as the Iraqi Army Police Security Forces, we were not yet at a target of only 200 thousand in Afghanistan.  In 2005, it was very clear the war was going to get worse.  In 2006 I asked-- recommended at that point a economic supplemental of 600 million, which seemed like big dollars then, seems kind of small now.  And after several months of bureaucratic conflict, out of the 600 hundred million I had asked for we got 43.  This didn't go very far.  So, we didn't respond to the challenges.  We were not building an Afghan Army capable of standing on its own.  We were not building any of the logistics that allow them to stay in combat, fire support, artillery, medivac, we didn't start doing those things until 2007, I'm sorry until 2009.  We started funding some of them in 2007.  Some of it was foreseeable, some of it was not.  Iraq was soaking up the oxygen.  But, the fact was that for a very long piece of this we have not had our ends and our means in any kind of balance.  Now, what does success mean today with a more limited definition?  I think it basically means an Afghan Army and Security Force that is capable of not loosing.  It actually-- for ours-- that's not enough for Afghans, but for our strategic purposes it does not have to win, it has to not loose.  It has to not let the country fall into civil war, not let the Taliban retake large areas, not let al-Qaeda move back into base areas.  That means it will have to have a certain degree of economic-- foreign economic support, some-- probably some military support, but not a massive U.S. presence.  That is sufficient to give time for the state to develop, the economy to develop.  It's a very limited goal.  We've defined the goal publicly though in terms of al-Qaeda destruction or degrading al-Qaeda.  The problem with that goal is-- that statement is that it's a movement capable of regeneration.  You don't get the battleship moment of surrender.  So, if you have to deal with a movement capable of regeneration then you have to have an army to keep it from regenerating.  If you have an army you need to have a state, if you need a state you need a government, you need a government you need economy.  Oh dear, we're back into nation building, but we've defined nation building out as a primary cause.  So, now we have a verbal problem that we have the underpinnings of our policy, which we no longer want to talk about in terms of its broader purpose, that's given us a hang up.  That's why I think it is simpler to understand success and that's really where we are now as the ability not to loose, to hang on for while.  Now, to deal with the question of a chance for success, I've take a minute to sort of walk you through the evolution of policy briefly, I promise, and the-- some of the confusion that it has brought about.  When the Obama Administration came into to office we were on the point of loosing the war.  And in the period of two different reviews, one longer than the other, the President made basically three decisions.  Two of which went in one direction and one of which pulled against it.  He decided to massively increase economic support with its civilian presence and to considerably increase the military.  Those things stopped us from loosing.  And the policy was to get to an Afghan Army and Force to which we could transfer the security lead.  I want to come back to what security lead means in a minute.  The second decision was first to put a timeline on it that said we're going to start to withdraw in 2011, later we moved that date to 2014.  The nation of dates have caused a great deal of confusion.  They have led Afghans, Americans, others to expect a much larger withdrawal and a much faster withdrawal then was ever intended.  The first date, 2011, was taken broadly by Afghans, Pakistanis, insurgents to mean we're going in 2011.  It never meant that.  It always meant a limited withdrawal and a transition, but it was taken to mean a massive withdrawal.  So, it caused a lot of confusion.  There's a quote I like by Churchill said, "You could always trust the Americans to make the right decision after they've tried everything else."  We did figure out, we as a Government, that this 2011 was causing confusion.  It was causing confusion among our own forces.  And so, NATO and the United States came to agreement that the goal is 2014 for transition to the Afghans Security lead.  But, even that has caused confusion because a lot of people think it means everybody's going home.  It-- a lot of people think, maybe some of you think, that 2014 is for Afghanistan the equivalent of 2011 in Iraq when all foreign forces left.  The fact that people think this I would say-- submit as evidence the fact that the Washington Post and New York Times regularly write stories that say 2014 when all foreign forces leave.  I've even seen the Washington Post write that sentence in an article discussing how many foreign forces would stay after 2014 [Laughter] which is a pretty good illustration of chaotic thinking.  What does it actually mean?  First of all it means a process.  It does not mean a light switch, one day we're in charge, the next day they're in charge.  It means a gradual handover to Afghan forces.  It means changing our combat mission from first of all a very large direct combat mission to one in which our forces are backing up Afghan forces.  It means a very large integrated advisory presence with Afghans.  Secondly, it does not mean an end of U.S. combat by 2014, because in fact, we began so late to build what my military colleagues would call the enablers.  That is the things that allow the force to support itself in the field, to move itself, to supply itself, that we won't be done with that stuff before 2016.  So, we're going to be flying combat air support and we're going to be-- we may change the strategy, but the actual strategy means we will gradually shift the lead.  And we will still support it as the rest of their force and their supply elements and medivac, these things come online.  I talked to a friend the other day, it was down in Helmand said he was very impressed with the way the Afghan company that he was with was fighting, but they were using taxis for ammunition re-supply and chartered busses for medivacs.  They're not quite ready to stand on their own, but that's a product of when we started building and funding the equipment to have a choice.  And the media on this is not very good so that when Secretary Panetta-- I don't think he was really articulate, but he spoke about 2013 as essentially a changeover to an advisory mission.  And everybody thought, ah that means we're leaving faster.  Actually it meant a reconfiguration of the force so that instead of having a lot of separate people running in large brigades, you have a much larger advisory presence integrated into the Afghans.  Because what you're trying to do is the really critical element this year and next to some extent, is you're trying to get from quantity to quality.  Last year has been a building-- a huge building of the numbers and it's been quite successful.  But, getting a lot of folk into uniform and having very basic training does not give you a quality force.  And what you have to go through to do that is essentially push them to some extent into the lead, but not over commit green troops so that they get used up and break.  They have to have a certain amount of backup.  And that's the problem in the next year.  It will have bad days because I'm sorry to tell who've seen a lot of movies that war is not an exact science.  The enemy is a learning organization also.  Some days they outthink you, some days there are bad days.  They get smarter.  We get smarter, so that you need room for failure as well.  This is the question of how much room you need for failure.  How much reserve you need is the principle question that underlies the discussion of fast you can afford to pull troops out in 2013.  A lot of the public discussion now about pulling out troops in 2013 is really based on what you need to keep from rushing to failure.  It doesn't mean you need every soldier, but it needs a more careful examination.  It isn't just about well you can't get there, so let's get them out more quickly.  In fact, I would say that if the President has really tightened up the margin of success with his decision to pull 23 thousand troops out this year.  I am planning my next trip out in May, I was quite interested to discover that they're going to limit visitors very extremely in July, in August and September because they're going to need all their air, mobile and fixed wing because they've got to pull 23 thousand troops out, which has to start quite a bit before the end date.  You don't just get 23 thousand men and they all march down to the airport and leave in one day.  And they've got to do a lot of repositioning to continue the war.  Why I say this is tightening up, it means in the middle of the toughest part of the fighting season of the year we're going to be doing all this repositioning.  Where are we now?  Because when you come to this question where I argue we still have a chance of success, we have to have some kind of scorecard and this is really hard.  Getting to the point we have now has taken longer than I think either our military or civilian authorities portrayed.  And we are really now at the point where we are now testing the theory of transition.  What you're trying-- what a lot of people want to do is they want to cherry pick events on the ground to say it's a failure or it's succeeding.  Both narratives are fallacious because you have examples of both.  What you really have are all the things we don't yet know that we're going to find out about.  It's a little like we're in the course, but we haven't taken the midterm yet and you want to a make a judgment on whether you're going to fail.  Well, what I'm really saying to you is the judgment is premature.  Let me give you some examples.  We have had-- we, the United States particularly, have had solid successes in Kandahar and in Helmand, that's in the south and southwest, areas that you read about a year, year and a half ago, Marjah battles are quiet, very little going on.  But, we don't whether Afghan troops will succeed in holding those areas.  We know that there are areas that have declined in security in the east because the balance of our forces focused on the south.  We know that we're going to have to do some tough fighting in the east before we turn those areas over and we're going to have to do that fighting simultaneously with troop withdrawals and repositioning.  But, we don't know whether that will succeed.  We have a plan.  We have a schedule for building the last of the force.  We don't know how that will go.  So, many of the tests are the tests we're going to confront in this year.  I am not arguing that success is guaranteed, but I am arguing that the testing of whether the strategy can work is largely a matter of the next year to 18 months, that we will know a lot more in that period.  If in that period Afghan forces simply aren't holding much of anything we turn over or we can't take our hands-- take the training wheels off and take our hands off the backseat of the bike, we're failing.  If it works in a lot of places it has hope, but it's going to need probably some tinkering.  But, we have a public dialogue that wants to rush to decision before in fact most of the testing of the strategy takes place.  I think there a lot of positive signs, but they do not guarantee a positive outcome and I'm not trying to argue that do.  There is development in the Afghan Government, but it's uneven.  You have ministries that have made very significant development and one has to understand that where we started in 2001-2 was a totally destroyed country.  I remember talking to the then Aid Director told me about going to visit the Ministry of Education in 2001 groping their way down dark halls, no power, the windows all shot out.  The Minister working with a kerosene lamp because there was no electricity and there was no computer and if he had a computer he couldn't have run it anyway.  That's gone to 8 million kids in school, about a third of them girls, Ministry of Health still imperfect, but the-- one of the highest rates of mother child mortality in the country is coming down.  Ministry of Finance has managed to handle this huge influx of foreign aid without having significant inflation in Afghanistan.  For the economists among you that is a fairly considerable establishment.  I am seeing government filling out in the provinces.  Two thousand-- winter of 2005-6 we knew we were going to face a very large insurgency-- insurgent push in the next-- 2006, we were desperate for ways to counter and get ahead of it and we didn't have a whole lot to work with.  I remember we were tying to add I think it was four additional qualified staff to the Governor's offices in six provinces.  The foreigners were prepared to pay for it and it took us four or five months to fill those positions because we couldn't find people who were qualified-- Afghans who were qualified, the country was shattered.  Back about six months ago they had a job fair in Kandahar, which despite all the violence had well over a hundred applicants for municipal and province jobs who had, many of them, the requisite qualifications.  Districts I've visited are getting filled out.  Is that adequate?  No.  Does it guarantee you that you will build a government, no.  All it tells you is that there is progress.  That the image of nothing going right and it's all hopeless is an exaggeration.  This is why I say that it is possible to reach my rather narrow definition of success, but it is not guaranteed.  And we have made it more difficult both by our decisions on the speed of troop numbers and by the lack of clarity about our long term policy.  So, we now have a policy that'll transition in 2014.  We have no clarity, this is where you know I'm out of government, about what it is we intend after 2014.  The last time I spent-- well, March and April-- November both, I spent about an hour each time alone with President Karzai.  I spent time with his most pestiferous political opponents.  The one point on which he and his worst critics had complete agreement was we have no idea what you, the United States, intends after 2014.  Now, that's a problem in itself, but what you have to understand is what it sets up in Afghanistan because if people think, let me go back, if people have to survive and they do, we are thinking okay, you know, we got an election this year.  We'll have a new administration; we'll work on this stuff.  We don't have to have this clarity yet, you know, that's two Congressional elections.  My God, that's really double long term.  Afghans are thinking about how do I survive?  And they have now thirty years of violence to condition them to the fact that hope is not a plan.  And so, if they have to think about this with a lack of clarity, they make assumptions.  And their assumptions are always the most dire, because that's what you do when you plan to survive.  So, if you then make the assumption the foreigners are going to bolt before we have something that can hold, you know, one tendency is well, I have to steal more because I'm going to have to run.  So, that the lack of clarity in fact actually pushes for more corruption.  Second is, that if you think you're going to have fight and if you're not planning on running and you're an Afghan politician and you think you're going to stay in the country what do you do?  You tighten your links with your ethnic and tribal brethren that will fight with you.  That's a pattern we've seen in many countries.  When there's insecurity it moves away from national cohesion and toward tribal identities, ethnic identities.  Well, we're trying to build a national army and we're actually doing reasonably well at it.  But, when people start thinking this institution might not be ready, I got to tighten my ties.  At that point it really doesn't matter if the person you have to depend on for security is a nasty corrupt warlord, because if that's the only way you're going to stay in power or stay alive then you're going to have to excuse an awful lot of other behavior.  If you know that you got something else to depend on that's less necessary, but because we won't clarify our own intentions, when we want to talk about cleaning up the government.  What an Afghan is hearing in many cases is, I know I can't survive without these people around me, unless you're going to stay and you want me to fire them, but you can't tell me if you're going to stay.  And then we wonder why is this dialogue not persuasive?  So, the lack of clarity in our own policy is in many ways pushing against things we want to build in terms of nationalism and identity.  But, you know, it's not one tendency.  There are as I said, a number of positive things going on.  There is a great deal of progress in the army, but again, it's an early testing phase.  And there are-- I don't think we have a very good system of reporting on what we are doing with the Afghan military so that the public is faced with drawing conclusions from a morass of anecdotes with no cohesion.  And so, you get the guy who says, "I saw six units and they're all rotten."  And the other person who says, "I've worked with these guys and they're good."  And it's a morass of detail and it's hard to tell.  I've seen enough to feel that this is possible.  So, without going on and on we have a situation in which my view, which some of you may choose to argue with is that we pay a very serious price for failure.  There is no plan B that is worth a Billy Damn.  There is a policy of transition, which may fail, but where we are only now in the period where we will really test and see whether it can succeed or not and we have serious interest.  It is in my view worth carrying the test.  That's the basic.  There's lots of other things to talk about so let me stop there and take your questions.  Thank you.


[ Applause ]


>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  Let me just-- I'm going to be the recognizer here. 

>> Ambassador Neumann:  He's the referee.

>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  I'm not a referee but, I'm sure that Ambassador Neumann is also willing to-- you know he has significant experience in North Africa as well and I know Arab Spring issues like that are on peoples mind--

>> Ambassador Neumann:  In case we didn't have enough here to talk about--

>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  We want to take advantage of the breadth of his knowledge and experience.  So, I think we can-- you certainly will agree to open it up to other questions as well.  

>> Ambassador Neumann:  I can always say I don't know.  

>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  If you'll hold up your hand and we'll begin.  Students and others in the community hold up your hand.  Do I see any?

>> Ambassador Neumann:  We've answered all of your questions, that's amazing.

>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  Over there, okay please. 


[ Silence ]


>> [Audio issue] could you make some comments on that?  Something that came out just today.   

>> Ambassador Neumann:  Sure.  Let me repeat the-- I'm going to try to summarize questions so everybody can hear.  And also they pick it up.

>> We need to turn on the camera since it's being filmed as well.

>> Ambassador Neumann:  So, the basic question was about status of women and what's happened.  First of all there has-- we've come from a point where they were being stoned in the football stadium.  There is a good deal of progress.  On the progress side of the ledger you have-- obviously you have girls going to school.  You've gone from no girls legally in school to about a third of the 8 million odd women.  You have a Ministry of Women's Affairs.  You have a parliamentary and a provincial government set aside of twenty five percent being women, many of them elected because of the set aside, some of them out polling their male competitors.  They would get into parliament anyway.  Even if you had no set aside for them.  Very-- some very, very dynamic Afghan women that I know in the parliament and other places.  Then you have all kinds of problems.  You have problems of women getting put in jail because they run away from abusive husbands.  You have issues of, you know, women and girls being married off to settle opium debts.  This is a very mixed picture.  As we-- as we work on this let me talk about the policies side.  And you also have by the way-- you have a huge split in urban and rural women and how they live and how they conceive of their rights and the culture.  It's a lot easier to make changes in the urban situation that doesn't have the heavy tribal hand.  It is extraordinarily important as we move on this to be very careful about how much social change we try to impose on Afghanistan.   If there is one theme that runs through the last hundred odd years of Afghan history it is the reaction-- the negative reaction when governments try to impose social change at a faster rate than people will accept.  That was a large part of the overthrow of the government of King Amanullah in 1929.  It is again a piece of the whole-- the history-- the people kind of forget that there was nearly two years of an Afghan communist rule before the Soviets ever invaded.  They invaded because the Afghan domestic communists were failing.  A large part of-- it was some of their failure was because they were busy killing each other in Cabal.  But, a large piece of their failure was that they tried to impose massive social change on the villages.  Some of which was about women, some of which was about education, some of which was about land reform where they didn't-- they took land away from the landlords, which caused one political problem, but they didn't put in the seeds and loans and things the landlords delivered so that the farmer had less capacity to actually farm the land even though he owned.  So, it was a complex of a lot of issues, but they were trying to make a lot of social change and that produced an enormous amount of rebellion, which frankly was about to bring down the domestic communists before the Soviets came in.  Soviets also tried to impose a great deal of change including on women's education and on economic reconstruction.  Some of which was helpful and much of which also triggered reactions.  That does not mean one should simply live with the most medieval aspects of society, but it is a caution flag about how much you try to drive.  My conclusion out that is that we need to be solidly behind Afghan women, but not in front of them.  That-- when they can be-- when Afghan women who want to develop can be labeled as leading a foreign charge, then they are discredited.  And it is enormously difficult for them to succeed.  So, they have to be able to move in an Afghan context, which we should support.  And then we have to be very careful-- there's-- the question comes up about if we leave, what do we do about women?  Well frankly, if we leave prematurely we will do nothing.  I don't care what we say.  I don't care what pious pronouncements we make.  If we are no longer a player we will have no influence over what happens.  You can decide to care about that or you can decide not to care about it, but if you think that you can leave Afghanistan and have some influence because you've put something on paper or have a commitment that will do something about Afghan women, you have been smoking some of the local product.  So, we need to be-- I don't know, you know, people will have to decide is that a policy goal for which you would kill people and have Americans die or not.  But, it is part of the mix of the consequence of leaving early. 


[ Silence ]


>> My question and it's unrelated with my first comment here.  I've sat through some of the discussions here at the university with our Asia study department and others over the past ten years.  And the three points that I made they are very clearly obvious.  One is the Afghani society over the centuries and whatever the area always have a very decentralized society?  Like sixty square miles, you know, and the next sixty square, they're all independent operators or--

>> Ambassador Neumann:  Decentralized nature of that land.

>> Nature of the land.  And as you said there are no roads connected.  There are paths through the fields and whatever, donkey, horse or whatever they use for transportation.  And the second point is the, you know the people have lived there in a very strong belief in the religion and culture and the way the men and the women have had their relationships based on those beliefs.  And then now the change has brought the interest of Pakistan, which was created about sixty years ago and in the east side-- the west side you have [Inaudible] and they changed drastically [Inaudible] with the current situation.  And they all have these vested political interests and we, I mean Americans we were there to catch Osama Bin Laden.  That was the one-- we heard right at 9/11, that was our goal to catch him and kill him and get out.  Slam dunk, you know, that's what we heard.  So, now we are in a situation that we are trying to manage those conditions in our way of life.  It's like-- looks like we're imposing something which they don't have, they've never been used to.  My question is how realistic we are assessing the situation that we can make the new Afghan system not deduce?  

>> Ambassador Neumann:  Let me try to distill there.  The basic question was how realistic are we in what we're trying to decide in Afghanistan particularly with a view to the centralization.  Many would say over centralization, of the Afghan government, the history of Afghans as being independent and the regional interest in the place.  Of course, some of these things pull in different directions.  If we-- to go back to my earlier point, if we do not succeed in leaving something that can hold, then the regional interests are very likely to pull the place apart merged with domestic fighting for power.  So, it's a lot easier to talk about how hard it is than to figure out how to get out without a failure.  On the question of decentralization I think there are two things to understand.  Historically when Americans talk about decentralization we think of a kind of a cascade of authority and how authority is distributed.  In Afghanistan it was actually a parallel system of government.  Central Authority was responsible for certain things, tribes, local government is responsible for other things.  So, a murder on the highway is a matter of the state's responsibility for transit.  And a murder in the village is a private matter to be solved by tribesman.  It's not something the state necessarily had authority for.  The system is unquestionably over centralized, although I would say that is much more a function of what Afghans wanted at the time of the loya jirga than it was a foreign imposition.  A lot of it is an Afghan reaction to the chaos of the warriors, but the centralization exceeds what the government can do.  Trouble is the old decentralization or parallel government relied in large part on very powerful tribal units and social cohesion.  And both the social cohesion and the tribal units have been badly damaged and broken by the years of war.  And you have the growth of the various militias led by militia leaders, warlords as we sometimes call them.  So, it's very difficult to decentralize without decentralizing back to the same people that you're most worried about for corruption and misrule.  I think we have frequently had an unrealistic concept.  I think we are getting a lot more realistic, but we have come rather late to that.  Personally I feel that one of the worst things we have done in Afghanistan and we continue to do it is our short tours of our personnel.  The one year people turn over and you go institutionally stupid once a year so that the learning--

>> You don't just mean military though?

>> Ambassador Neumann:  I don't mean just military, no.  I mean my embassy turns over-- you know, turned over mostly every year.  I stayed two.  I offered to stay a third year.  They didn't accept that.  My Deputy stayed too, but a lot of people stay one year.  This is not a country where you learn even a piece of it and a job well in one year.  And that tends to make us erratic, change course, get inundated with new ideas.  What has produced now a growing realism is the pressures both domestic, political pressure in this country and the military pressures.  The fact that we're going to have to transition that diminishes our grand goals, sometimes maybe not so good but often to maybe more reality.  But, it's still a problem.  It's still a problem in our domestic debate between explaining more limited goals and explaining what you can't do.  I think now if you get an army that can stand on its own with-- it'll still need foreign financial support and some troops, but with a much lower level of military support, that that is a more realistic goal.  That's not building a whole country.  It's building the space in which the country can continue to develop, but it's a much messier goal.  


[ Silence ]


>> Go ahead sir.

>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  Gentleman in the orange--

>> Okay, thank you.

>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  Orange sweater, sorry. 

>> Thank you.

>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  Then we'll go back.   

>> If I heard you correctly at a critical time we only get was it 43 billion or approximately there?  And the request had gone in--

>> Million, million.

>> Million.  Okay.

>> [Inaudible] 

>> Okay.  Change that dynamic, but [Laughter] if-- what would the American public have gotten for that-- the request that was about 600 million?  In other words, at that critical point in time what would that have bought us in terms of a return on investment?  To put it in kind--

>> Ambassador Neumann:  Yea, no.

>> [Inaudible] 

>> Ambassador Neumann:  Fair, fair question.  And of course it's harder to-- it's easy to say what we want it do.  It's a little harder to say honestly whether we'd have succeeded at it.  I can tell you what we were looking at doing with the money.  Part of it was we wanted to go-- we wanted about-- 100 million of it would have flowed into our various aid people in the provincial reconstruction teams in about 23 three different provinces at that point.  We had almost no money for them.  The military was funding short term projects.  We had a lot of aid money in national projects, but very little ability to work with our civilians in the countryside.  I particularly wanted some of that flowed into the north and the west where the areas were calmer where we could work more.  I felt that we were neglecting areas where we could make a difference and bring more-- we were confusing common stability and we needed to work on building government authority and stabilize areas where we were not in the middle of an insurgency.  A second-- a big hunk of it was-- would have been targeted to roads and power because two of the biggest-- they have two of the biggest bottlenecks to economic development in Afghanistan.  Without roads you can't move crops to market.  There are areas in Afghanistan where right now farmers have switched off of poppy because they can actually make more money growing vegetables, because they can do two or three different crops in the course of a year, poppies a single crop for the year.  The cumulative value is more.  But, they've got to have enough-- they have to have water too, but they've got to have the ability to move the crops to market.  [Inaudible] first year I was there they told me that somebody told them to grow tomatoes and everybody thought that was a great idea and they threw fifty percent of the crop away because the road was so bad it was mush by the time you got it to market.  So, we felt that roads were one-- roads were important for getting government authority, for getting crops in and for military movement as well.  The third element we were really looking at strongly was power because Afghanistan has some hydroelectric power.  And we were developing a line to bring power down from the north from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.  But, a lot of Afghan-- Afghanistan runs on diesel power with fuel supplied by trucking it in from Pakistan and Iran.  The difference was about six fold in the price of power so that Afghanistan grows tomatoes and it imports tomato paste.  It grows wheat and it imports flour.  And if you were going to begin to create even minimal increases in employment you had to have cheaper power to do it.  Also, if you-- we are going to have any success, we haven had a lot in poppy reduction, you have to deal with the problem of landless farmers.  Poppy is very intensive-- labor intensive and a lot of people make their living fro the year out of what they make in poppy harvest.  But, when you move to say wheat or a variety of other crops, they're not nearly as labor intensive.  All of the sudden you have a whole big reservoir of unemployed males who have no way of staying alive.  So, if you want to deal with those you've got to be able to raise other employment prospects.  I mean there were other pieces, but those were the big elements.  


[ Silence ]


>> [Laughter] My name's Haven Allen [Assumed spelling] I'm a first year MPP here.  I was wondering if you could extrapolate the sort of activities that the U.S. and Afghanistan is doing in order to create a sense of buy in or ownership for the Afghanis for what will ultimately be their country.  Furthermore, what additional opportunities do you see are available to create that sense of ownership?

>> Ambassador Neumann:  I think the most important question of buy in is the question of creating some sense of certainty about what we are going to do.  Because we are such a large presence that it's extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible for Afghans to formulate a vision for the future without knowing how we play in that.  If we're out they've got a totally different situation if we're in.  And the lack of clarity is one of the largest problems to creating buy in.  A lot of buy in has to come from the Afghans, within the Army, within the police; that's a much harder wicket by the way.  I think there are limits to how much foreigners can create Afghan buy in.  I think at the end of the day Afghans will have to create Afghan buy in themselves.  If they don't have it, if people won't fight for their country and serve it, eventually they will lose it.  But, the biggest piece we can do is some clarity about where we're going to be and what we intend to do and not be jerking the issue around constantly.   


[ Silence ]


>> Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky:  I didn't mean to discourage other questions by the way.  

>> Ambassador Neumann:  If I keep shorter answers and we'll get to more questions. [Laughter]

>> The gentleman in the back.

>> There's one back there and then you.

>> You've mentioned a few times how the American people feel about how we're tired of our presence in Afghanistan, what about the Afghanee people?  How do they feel about a continuing American presence?  

>> Ambassador Neumann:  You know, a lot of the initial thought was Afghans are tremendously xenophobic.  They're going to automatically be against the foreigners.  That did not prove to be true.  In fact, I think for an overwhelming majority of Afghans this was looked at, my God this is the last chance for the future of this country and we'll never have another one.  Over time, we're beginning to wear out the welcome.  Now, our ability to assess this is limited.  There are a lot of opinion poles and I have limited regard for what opinion poles in Afghanistan tell you, but nonetheless assuming that the flaws are basically consistent so that maybe they tell you something about trends, what you see is a gradual decline in favorable ratings.  Although it's huge differences in different parts of the country, still I think overwhelming in the Conjects, Uzbeks, Hazaras, much more divided than the Pushtune, but not uniform.  Another way though of sort of looking at this question is to compare what happened with the Soviets and what's happening with us.  There is no comparable sign that the Taliban are massively loved.  They're massively feared.  There is an expansion of the rebellion, although a lot of it coming in from the sanctuaries in Pakistan.  But, there is no evidence at all to indicate you have a massive popular uprising against the foreigners.  You got a lot of fear about the foreigners leaving and you got people that are getting tired of the foreigners, people wondering what the foreigners, you know whether its worth having the foreigners when you'd be better off to even have a Taliban or a Haqqani victory rather than endless fighting, but you don't see any groundswell of huge support.  You see some in the-- you had seen some in the south, in the southwest particularly, although much more tribally based than intellectually based around an ideology.  I'm sort of reminded of a story a Canadian friend told me.  He was out in the village and he was talking to a villager and this was an area that had had a lot of fighting over the years.  And the villager said, "But you know, we still welcome you."  And the Canadian said, "Well, you know, yea I'm here but I'm you know here in my battle rattle, you know my armored vest and my gun and all my equipment" and that's what you would say.  And he said, "Well, when we felt differently with the Soviets you could tell the difference."  You had a massive popular uprising.  You don't have that.  I would say we still have a margin with which to work.  But it is fraying.  It is declining year by year.  It's another reason that I think the transition strategy makes sense, whether the timing makes sense or not.  We, neither in terms of our own domestic support nor in Afghanistan can we do this work forever. That's very clear.  The question is can you transition in a measured way that gives you the best chances for success and the least probability of failure within sort of a broad compass or do you try to rush to failure by moving faster than is conceivable.

>> You to describe your perception of Pakistani policy towards Afghanistan, but you mentioned that the Indians and the Russians are-- have a stake in the game.

>> Ambassador Neumann:  Don't forget the [Inaudible]

>> What is your perception of their policies or their goals?  Is China a player and what chance do we have to influence those policies?

>> Ambassador Neumann:  Okay, the question was regional policy, not just Pakistan, China, Iran, quick tour, quick tour around the neighborhood.  China:  interested but very cautious.  Have come in for economic goals; have not yet shown a desire.  They're not hostile.  They invested three billion dollars in a copper mine, but they're not doing a lot in aid because the question with the Chinese is whether they will run their economic programs in ways that build up the Afghans, that state the capability or will do it simply as an extraction industry or a lot of Chinese?  Russians:  its almost schizophrenic, because on the one hand they really don't want a return of the Taliban and Islam extremists assuming Islam has a potential to expand into what they say charmingly call, "The Near Abroad" in the Tajikistan, Turkistan, Uzbekistan.  On the other hand, they really don't like a big American presence sitting there kind of in their backyard.  So, they sometimes have a certain dualism of policy, but over time they have become, they're helping more rather than less in terms of allowing transit of lethal equipment, which they weren't doing, rail shipment of nonlethal equipment into Afghanistan, big debt relief.  So there's some back and forthing, but they don't want us to stay forever.  They don't want us to lose.

>> They get a lot of opiates.

>> Ambassador Neumann:  They've got a lot of drug problems that comes in from Afghanistan and they don't like it.  The Iranians, it's a little hard to say, because we don't talk to them.  I did talk them when I first went there and then that authorization was rescinded.  I think it's important to do a kind of contrasting compared very briefly with Iraq because Iranian goals are to the best I can analyze quite different.  Iraq has a long time been a threat to Iran.  They viewed it as a threat in the days of the [Inaudible] and Iran and about 20 percent of Iran my Consular District.  They were, you know 1974-1975 every year the Iranian army would drill the Iraqi invasion, the retreat to consolidation of the repulse of the invasion.  Iran sees a potential threat, a major strategic issue there.  They do not see a comparable threat in Afghanistan.  They worry about us.  They worry about how we might use Afghanistan against them.  They have-- there has been a gradual but certain increase in the provision of arms to insurgents that have come out of Iran that it's always a little difficult to say that they are absolutely government sent, but then there's a little too much to say that they're not.  On the other hand they haven't sent nearly as much or equipment that is nearly as sophisticated as what they sent into Iraq.  So, I think with Iran one has to say, "Why are they not doing things they could do as well as what they are doing?"  To my mind, the answer is they're keeping ties warm that they might use against us if we come to blows, but they are not seeking to dominate Afghan politics the way they have sought to have a dominant role in Iraqi politics.  So, it's a manageable situation, but a difficult one.  The Indians are very worried about Afghanistan.  They have given a considerable amount of economic aid, which is you know important considering India is not a wealthy country, building several roads, building the new Afghan parliament.  They would like to be more involved militarily. We've tried to keep them out because it sends the Pakistani's up the wall if the Indians are involved militarily.  The underlying question is can one build a kind of neutrality pact in the region.  Because Afghanistan's longest period of peace which lasted nearly 70 years was a period when basically the foreigners stayed out except for foreign aid.  And I think this is part of a long-term solution.  But to have any kind of neutrality agreement you have to have an Afghan government that can maintain a modicum of stability, because if you have Afghans inside fighting for control they will draw in foreign support.  And as soon as one comes in somebody else comes in to block that.  So that-- I think we should be talking more about regional arrangements.  I think we should begin talking about it now, but I don't think we should have any expectation of a near term solution because I don't think you have the pieces at hand.  I'm glad you're doing this. 

>> So you stressed a few times the lack of clarity in the policy on the other side of the U.S. government.  So, I was wondering if you could share a little perception of what are the barriers for the government to come to some clearer policy.  And that's probably--

>> Ambassador Neumann:  That's President Obama.  I don't really know the answer.  I mean some of it is us; we're having sometimes a short-term focus, some of the debility of American policy making.  But some of it goes to what the President chooses to talk about.  I mean for instance, before the first speech of the 2011 deadline, I was on a call I don't know probably with 100 others of the White House background and what the President was going to talk about.  And they were clear you know 2011 is the beginning of a withdrawal for forces.  It could be slow.  We're going to be there for awhile.  It's tied into various other things.  It's conditional, and those themes of explaining the policy were carried out by Secretary Clinton, by then Secretary of Defense Gates, by Admiral Mullen, by General McCrystal.  But when the President spoke, he spoke basically about a date and that's what people heard.  But why the President chooses to speak [Inaudible] there are a variety of things one can attribute to his motivation, but I don't know the answer.


[ Silence ] 


>> [Inaudible] on the U.S. coordination with the Afghanee government and also the tribal leaders on actual mission focuses?

>> Ambassador Neumann:  The question more detail on how we try to coordinate with Afghan government and with tribal leaders and others on nation building inference.  Ew, let me see if I can do this in a way that provides some detail without simply swamping you with little bits and pieces and leaving you totally confused.  There is an effort to move to a goal of having 50 percent of our aid flow through Afghan government mechanisms, which is part of strengthening government.  This is a little difficult to do for a variety of reasons, but there is some movement on it. There's a lot of experimentation going on now about trying different things to see which will work.  There has been an enormous effort, but I'm not sure of its value in building provincial and district government.  And part of General McCrystal's plan was what he called key terrain districts.  They were 80 something and 40 of them were in the first year and we fielded district support teams, which were a mix of civilians and military, various cabinet departments.  A very mixed bag as to what they have achieved, some places quite a bit, some places probably less, probably too much self-rating that makes it hard.  I wish we do a comprehensive study of what we've done in the last year to try to differentiate where we have had success with district support teams, where we have not, where success is defined and can be defined in terms of building something that will outlast the team as opposed to something that is dependent on the team being there and trying to gloss and stronger lessons learned, but I don't see us doing that yet.  We have tried to work at a variety of provincial and district levels to strengthen their local government with these districts, support teams, with more aid, with people from the Department of Agriculture, justice and various ones.  It's a very mixed picture.  It's pretty easy to be critical about parts of it; some of it has been helpful.  We have not tried to engage directly with tribal leaders per se, because ultimately that's something the Afghan government has to do.  There is a very interesting program in which the jury is really out, which is a program directed towards reconciliation or reintegration, Afghan Program for Reconciliation and Peace, APRP.  It's had a lot-- it's effort to create a structure and the resource local government, Afghan local governments in order to attract people to come in out of the cold and reintegrate.  It has had a lot of teasing problems.  It's been very slow to stand up.  It's been heavily criticized as not having taken enough fighters off the battlefield, a lot of questioning about whether the people who have been reintegrated were really in the insurgency to begin with.  On the other hand, there was another argument that says, "Look if you provide resources and a structure and allow Afghan government to pull people in it doesn't really matter if you're pulling in people who were criminals or just excluded or insurgents.  It is part of a larger state building program."  But I would say the jury is really out on whether that would work  I guess the other thing before, not to keep on going on endlessly with programs, is to remember that all of these things are function of about the last two years.  These were all-- these were not programs we've been working on for ten or eleven years.  These are programs that we decided to resource and create at the beginning of the Obama administration and that there is a let-- there's a time lag.  You know, we tend to do policy.  We're very policy focused and you know we live-- especially in Washington, we live, breathe, sleep, eat policy except for brief moments of gossip and career destruction.  And so there's an unconscious sense that a decision taken is an action completed.  And, in fact, many of these things have very long lag times so that the decision to have a foreign civilian increase, which many military criticizes insufficient.  It took the better part of a year to get them there. It took the better part of a year to get a decision to get, to increase money then you go to the congress and then the congress votes and then you have to decide what the congress actually did.  You have to release the money, to feel it has to go down to your programs.  Many of these things have a year or two year lag from when you decide them to when you actually get them operating.  And then, of course, we're already on to the next policy so you just kind of steeply ramp up and [Sound effects] and going down the other side. So, when I said that there are a lot of these programs, I can't really tell you how much they have achieved.  It's part of the newness of that effort.  

>> You got a lot of questions and not too much time left.  So, let me.  I'm going to take one--


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>> So you did a very strong case where I need to stay in Afghanistan and the consequences of failing.  My question is the only answer through militarizing Afghanistan and creating this army.  And I ask the question because you can easily imagine by not dealing with these steep social issues in Afghanistan, but by creating a strong military can very much likely end up in a situation like the Shaw of Iran, [Inaudible] in Egypt where a military is controlling and really the same negative issues that have driven the whole Arab spring.  Is there no options or opportunity to do this by demilitarizing Afghanistan like Japan and Germany after World War II were built?

>> Ambassador Neumann:  The question in case everybody didn't hear it, militarization of Afghanistan, which I've talked about has a lot of risks.  Is there no way to demilitarize as we did in Germany and Japan?  For that kind of demilitarization you'd have to win the war first.  I mean we demilitarized there after we totally won a war and crushed the opposition or we ain't going to get there.  It is-- there is a risk.  And I devoutly wish we had worked harder and earlier on a lot of institution building and social building earlier.  I do believe we have to be conscious of those things.  But I think our time is now getting limited for a made-- for what we will do with all American forces are there.  And I do not believe that we can create good governance and much better economy in a very short run, right.  To me, the militarization which comes, the militarization that is a quality military that can work, comes with the idea that that buys you the time for social transformation and development.  It doesn't guarantee it will happen.  It's simply that I believe you can't get there, that you can't buy the time.  The biggest risk to militarization is either civil war.  I suppose you could eventually get a military coo, but we got-- they'd have to be a little more unified then they are now.  I don't think that will happen for a number of years while we are there in a declining presence.  And that gives you a number of years to also solidify the army.  The army is multiethnic and multitribal.  It is not, it has a problem in that it does not have enough southern Pushtune.  It's about forty two percent Pushtune in the army.   The Tajik's are a little over represented.  The Hasaras' is a little underrepresented, but it is, it is cross confessional.  It is not single ethnic units.  But gelling that is going to take some time.  So, the danger is there.  I think we can mitigate it by the amount of training we do, not just military training but I mean civilian training and economic training.  But I don't think, I don't think there is a way of bringing about rapid governance and development, at least there is no example I know in 60 odd years of post colonial development, where you have had a rate of change in governance or economics equivalent to what people would like to see you know in the next two or three years.

>> As I understand it the progress in dealing with the military is much higher now than it is with the police, which is also an important component of this.

>> Ambassador Neumann:  That is absolutely true, two basic reasons:  one, which is still very structural is police is local and police is part of politics.  And the second is also army we took everything apart and we started to build a new army from the ground up.  Police we basically said you know whatever is there is the police and they were basically people's militias that came to rest in various places.  They were in no way a national police and then we didn't really get into it.  I mean 2000, the first 200 million dollars, 200 million, which is not a big sum that we spent on military equipment; took me six months to get authority from that comptroller of the Department of Defense to move that money from the military program to the police program in 2005.  We didn't go into serious police equipment until the 2007 budget.  There are improvements in some areas.  It's a very mixed bag.  I won't say more about it now for time.

>> Last question in the back.

>> For this conversation in the wake of [Inaudible] and the incident on the border with the Pakistani troops, America is surpassed by some polls in terms of unpopularity in Pakistan is quite an achievement. [Laughter] But--

>> Ambassador Neumann:  We had to work at it.

>> But with, did the Parliamentary Committee on National Security in Islamabad say we need a radical shift from what our relationship has been with the United States?  It looks inevitable that that relationship is going to change and we had an important conversation with Ambassador Howard Schaffer saying he's going to become more business oriented.  Someone else said it was going to become more transaction oriented, but all of that in any case has implications for native supply groups.  It has implications for regional corporations; how do you think that relationship will be reconfigured and will the implications work?

>> Ambassador Neumann:  Yea, I don't.  Can I think about this a minute?  Any answer I-- by the way if anybody couldn't hear the question was how is the relationship in Pakistan going to be reconfigured and we're waiting to see what the Parliament will do.  So, to some extent I'm peering into a glass that-- it is hampered by the fact that I think neither country understands well the other nor do I think either country at senior levels is making a very strong effort to understand the other.  And I wish that would change, but I doubt it will.  We are bound together.  We have interests in common, which I think the United States recognizes without fully drawing a conclusion.  We do not want to see Pakistan radicalized.  We do not want to see the state fall apart.  Then we have very strong issues in opposition to each other.  My guess is that we will continue to rock along very awkwardly.  We will not accept no bombing, no attacks inside Pakistan because American people are getting killed by forces that come out of the sanctuaries.  And much as Pakistan may hate that we will continue to strike there.  The question will be whether we strike intelligently, less intelligently and how bad it gets.  Pakistanis have actually been fairly, I think one has to say that they don't like it.  They react quite negatively to have it come out in public, but the most important transit of Pakistan has not been interrupted, which is the overflights, because we have very limited, almost no capacity to bring lethal supplies in by the north, although that's now opening up and changing.  And almost every bullet, rocket, gun, that fire, not guns, well guns too that we use in Afghanistan comes in by air over Pakistan.  Pakistan never interrupted that shipment.  It just doesn't like to talk about it.  It interrupted the land carters, which makes the war more expensive, but we've had a considerable development of shipment from other ways, so that's a little less critical.  My guess is we will continue to bounce up and down badly, but probably not come to a total rupture.  I think the government of Pakistan, particularly the military, which is perhaps more important in this question in the civilian government recognizes that as difficult as the United States is as a friend, you don't quite want them as an enemy.  And if you don't like drones, try B52s.  We are, we are unlikely to just accept losing the war because of Pakistani hostility.  I wish both countries could find a better balance in their relations, but it's a very, it's a very tough one to find and it is beleaguered by the public opinion on both, in both countries, which is highly critical.  But I think we will probably tend to rock along in a very uneven, awkward fashion.  I could describe other ways we might do it, but my question is what is it likely to look like?  I think it is likely to look pretty messy, and on that clear explanation. [Applause]