Transcripts & Remarks
Remarks by Ambassador Crocker Before Leaving Kabul
July 15, 2012
As I think most of you know, I will shortly be leaving Afghanistan with great reluctance. But one’s departure from a post is always a good time to reflect on what one’s tenure has witnessed and as I look back on my year here in Afghanistan, I think working together we have done a great deal to strengthen the critical partnership between Afghanistan and the United States.
For example, a little over two months ago Presidents Karzai and Obama signed a historic Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States. They signed it here on Afghan soil, an agreement between two sovereign and equal nations. This agreement provides a long-term framework for relations between our two countries and further affirms our enduring partnership and joint stake in a future of peace, security and greater prosperity for our nations over the long term.
I was at the Chicago Summit a few weeks later where the leaders of the international community pledged their long-term financial support for the Afghan National Security Forces well beyond 2014.
A little over a week ago we welcomed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Kabul. Standing beside President Karzai she announced that President Obama had officially designated Afghanistan a Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States. Only a limited number of countries have attained this special status, the last one in 2004.
I then traveled to Tokyo with the Secretary where we joined delegations from over 70 countries at the Tokyo Conference. There the international community and Afghanistan agreed on a partnership based on principles of mutual accountability that will ensure our continuing financial support for Afghanistan’s efforts to strengthen itself and improve the lives of its people into the transformation decade.
I think all of this is what lies behind President Obama’s words some time ago when he said, “As Afghanistan stands up, it does not stand alone.” You will not be alone in 2012 or in 2014 or in 2024. The United States and the international community will stand with you because we have learned the price of doing otherwise.
As Secretary Clinton said here, it is certainly worth thinking for a moment about all of the positive changes that have been made and what we are doing to set the foundation for the future.
I have been fortunate to witness personally many of the extraordinary changes that have taken place in this country. I came to Afghanistan the second time in early 2002 to reopen our embassy which had been closed during the long harsh days of Taliban rule. I came here the first time as a young student in 1970, hitch-hiking from Amsterdam to Calcutta. And I’ll always remember the extraordinary hospitality of Afghans who had so little themselves, mainly truck drivers, who would give me not just a ride, but a ride and lunch or dinner or a bed to sleep in that night.
When I came back in 2002 I was convinced then, as I am convinced now, that the security and stability of Afghanistan have a direct impact on the safety and well-being of America and indeed the entire world.
In 2011 this conviction, and the request of my President, brought me out of retirement and back to Afghanistan to help contribute to the U.S.-Afghan partnership at a critical moment, when the Afghan people had begun to rightfully assume more and more responsibility for their security, their prosperity and their future.
The differences a decade had brought were almost unbelievable to me. In those early days just after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan was a battered country and Kabul a city almost completely in ruins, devastated by three decades of fighting. Today I see a country and a capital bustling with energy, commerce, optimism, and plans for the future.
Afghanistan still faces great challenges in security, in economic development, in the building of institutions. But no one, Afghan or foreign, should lose sight of the extraordinary achievements that you have brought about. I see Afghan children including young girls attending school. I see more and more Afghans across the country with access to health care and a corresponding rise in life expectancy. I see the Afghan government growing in experience and capacity, better positioned than ever before to improve the lives of its citizens. And I see the Afghan National Security Forces becoming ever more strong, capable and professional.
America is proud and I am personally proud that we have been able to stand by Afghanistan as it rebuilds itself, and we will stand by you far into the future. I may be leaving my post as America’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, but when I return to my country I will be taking up a new, although unofficial position -- one of Afghanistan’s Ambassadors to America. A part of my heart will always be here with you, which means I will have to come back and revisit it from time to time