Kerry: Success in Afghanistan Doesn’t Mean ‘Flawless Democracy’

Posted October 26, 2009 at 2:56pm

Fresh off a trip to Afghanistan, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said Monday that the key to success in the region is clarifying “what is doable— and not pursuing grander goals.“What we’re talking about is good-enough governance,— Kerry said at a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Achieving our goals does not require us to build a flawless democracy, defeat the Taliban in every corner of the country or create a modern economy.— Ultimately, the cornerstone of any U.S. strategy must be to transfer responsibility to the Afghans, Kerry said. In cases where a decision is being weighed that does not empower the Afghans, “we probably shouldn’t be doing it,— he said.Kerry made news last week when, during his trip, he persuaded Afghan President Hamid Karzai to agree to a runoff election. Kerry said he met one-on-one with Karzai several times to discuss the need for a runoff after a fraud investigation that dropped Karzai’s votes to less than 50 percent of the total.“You may have read that it takes three cups of tea to make a deal in Afghanistan,— Kerry said. “Well, let me tell you, it took us a lot more than that.—During his remarks, the Foreign Relations chairman called for greater attention to Pakistan and shot down the prospect of a major military increase in Afghanistan as advocated by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, saying it reaches “too far, too fast.—Kerry warned against simplifying the debate over Afghanistan to the issue of whether to send in more troops. “In recent weeks, politics has reduced an extraordinarily complex country and mission to a simple, headline-ready ‘yes or no’ on troop numbers. That debate is completely at odds with reality,— he said.The Massachusetts Democrat also took aim at former Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently criticized President Barack Obama for not moving fast enough in laying out a plan for the region.“After eight years of neglecting Afghanistan as vice president, Dick Cheney has come out of retirement to criticize President Obama for taking the time to examine assumptions before sending troops into war. This from the man who in 2002 told America that ‘the Taliban regime is out of business, permanently,’— Kerry said.