tv Forum Explores U.S. Political and Economic Strategy in Afghanistan CSPAN September 18, 2017 10:33am-12:06pm EDT
get the best value for the health care dollars we currently spend, and that we do the best job we can to reform the system so that health care is delivered more efficiently at higher quality to all americans. the simple fact is that americans are spending nearly now $1 trillion a year on health care, and we are not getting our money's worth. >> for the past 30 years, the video library is your free resource for politics, congress, and washington public affairs. so whether it happened 30 years ago or 30 minutes ago, find it in c-span's video library at c-span.org. c-span, where history unfolds daily. now former american diplomats discuss u.s. strategy in afghanistan. the political and economic
structure in that country and the influence of regional partners like pakistan, china and india. this is 90 mince. >> okay. we're going to get started. i'm dan rundy, hold the chair at cis. we're here to talk about nonmilitary components of u.s. strategy in afghanistan. i think the first thing you have to say is i certainly welcome, i think many people welcome the fact president trump and the trump administration has come forward with a new strategy for afghanistan without time lines and doubling down on a commitment to a great cause. the fact there are 3 million girls in school, a whole lot at stake in afghanistan, not just our security but moral component as well. there's a lot of progress that doesn't get a lot of coverage. for us to risk letting that go
would be high. it's been a privilege to work with my friend ambassador wayne, who is the former coordinator. we've done a number of things with ambassador wayne. so we've got a very good to cover the issues today. but the other point i want to make is you can't solve the challenges of afghanistan without diplomacy and development. it requires a security component but the facts on the ground are being changed by diplomacy and development in the private sector. we want to have that part of the conversation. the other thing is, we want to work ourselves out of a job. if afghanistan's in a different place than ten or 15 years ago, if you look at the amount of assistance as a size of the gnp of the economy, it's much smaller than ten years ago. if you look at afghanistan, it's collecting taxes. that means for every dollar they're collecting in taxes from
a formal private sector that's one less dollar of foreign assistance to pay for schools and hospitals, pay for security. we want to see those numbers go up. we want to see tax collections go up, we want to see economic growth happen. and we want to work ourselves out of a job or work ourselves to a smaller part of the job, let's put it that way. i think that is possible and we need to have an end point and to have a vision for what that looks like. the nonmilitary side is critical to this and that's going to be a critical part of this. i'm really pleased my good friend and colleague ramina van doren is going to be moderating the discussion. she's a new senior fellow here. she comes from economist intelligence unit. you have her bio. it's a real privilege to have her with us. i'm very grateful that she's going to be moderating this. i'm going to introduce abdul sanah to give an afghan perspective on this and he's going to make a few brief remarks and then we'll turn the
panel over to my friend romrona ba bandura. abdul, please come up. thank you. [ applause ] thank you, daniel, for the invitation and arranging this timely and important discussion. ambassador olson, ambassador wayne, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. the afghan synergy announced by president of the united states on july 21st is an important milestone. we welcome the shift to a condition based strategy which means the determination of the presence and number of troops will depend on the ground realities in afghanistan. while we welcome this announcement, the goal in afghanistan is aggressively pursuing anti-corruption measures, peace and reconciliation efforts. we believe in the fact that military is not the only
solution to the afghan problem. economic development, good government, reforms, tackling corruption, education of narcotics, peace and reconciliation and regional cooperation are vital steps toward achieving lasting stability. the government of afghanistan is committed to reforms and addressing these internal challenges. we just signed our commitment to implementing a compact with the united states which is aimed at prioritizing the existing commitment of the government of afghanistan. and measuring achievements against a set of benchmarks in a number of core areas. representatives of the two countries will meet regularly to ascertain whether the bench marks are established according to the established timelines. the compact will cover four
critical areas including economy, security, good governments and peace and reconciliation. significant reforms in areas of business, climate, financial sector and primary sector are under way. we're also committed to providing the necessary hard infrastructure for trade and investment to take place including primarily power and transport and telecoms. afghanistan is pursuing a self-reliance agenda with absolute determination and is committed to improving government services and effectiveness, rule of law and control of corruption. in regards to peace and reconciliation, afghanistan is trying to promote bilateral, try -- tri-lateral and multi-lateral mechanisms for regional corruption. the process is an important platform in this direction. our national peace strategy calls for direct outreach in
support of peace and reconciliation. we believe that with the proper support of the international community, we will have significant progress in these areas. i would like to end on the note that afghanistan is moving forward and the people of afghanistan are committed to owning their future. i just had to make it short because i was told that i have only four minutes. thank you very much. [ applause ] thank you very much. now we're going to -- i'm going to introduce the distinguished panel. it's a pleasure to be here. i'm romina bandura and i'm a senior fellow at csis. i'm joined by ambassador tony wayne. he's coordinating director for development and economic affairs for the u.s. embassy in kabul,
afghanistan. also mr. earl gast, he's the mission director in afghanistan for usaid, ambassador richard olson, former u.s. ambassador to pakistan and special representative of afghanistan and pakistan and mr. jeffrey grieco, president and ceo of the afghan american chamber of commerce. so i'm going to begin asking two questions about the past and so one of the main issues is what's different in afghanistan since september 11th? the second question -- i'm an economist, i like data, so the second question to the panelists would be what are some key achievements, some key data points that you could talk about
since, you know, september 11th that have been a success and that we can show progress in afghanistan? so those are two questions about the past and then i'll ask two questions about the future strategy and about the future of afghanistan. >> okay. thank you. i think as a former assistant administrator, i think the investments we made from 2002 onward were building the social structure of afghanistan. so we focused on building schools, getting curriculum design, getting girls in school, building clinics, local community based clinics, establishing mid-wife systems and all of that early infrastructure investment took afghanistan, maternal death rates 289 to 111, and now 110.
that's dramatic progress. it usually takes 30 years to see that effect. schools, we have i think 80% of the girls now in school. it's taken a little bit of a fall back. the last six or seven years. there are more schools built, perhaps too many schools in some cases because conflict zones overtook the schools that we had constructed with the afghan community. so i think education and social progress and health care has taken dramatic steps forward. other steps, economic steps are really important to know. they have acceded to the wto and they're working very hard to comply with all the requirements that a typical state has to do and with very little capacity in their own ministries to do that. it's been hard. they're working through it. very diligently with great support from the donor community. their revenue collections in the last few years have started to tick up. domestic resource mobilization is now improving. i think that's a very big credit to president ghani. he's the one who is really focused on trying to improve domestic resource mobilization.
their fiscal state is okay but i qualify that because the imf is in a workout with afghanistan. their fiscal state better be okay if we're in a workout situation. subregional growth. both within afghanistan there are big pockets of very strong private sector led, market-led growth going on. h halat, jalalabad. other areas that i think is a real model kabul, i don't like to throw in there as an automatic, because kabul is the center of government. there's naturally more investment and trade going on there with institutions. the president is moving now aggressively to integrate the country into the regional economy. there's a whole bunch of announcements that they've made. they have a direct rail service from china coming into northern afghanistan. there is now direct flights, cargo flights happening now every three weeks between kabul into india. that's a new agreement that the president had signed. that's positive and if i'm hearing from the government
officials, it's going to be speeding up and you'll see more of that and last is road integration. a lot of roads being built. in the south which is going to give them access into a freeport area for exports is also critical. last is ict is a very positive thing. it's taken too long for the president and the government to move forward on liberalizing the ict industry sector. that means they're going to have a spectrum allocation for 4g, finally. it should have been happened two years ago and there's been a lot of resistance to it. he did announce an open access policy which got put up on the website finally last month or so. you'll see now big investments coming in and telecom sector which early on in afghanistan, with the help of u.s. department of defense, who helped go in and build a lot of that infrastructure, that was a driver of a lot of the private sector growth early on. now it's shifting to a private sector-led effort without any
usg involvement in it. >> thank you and jeff, i won't repeat the accomplishments that you've cited. let me say, yes, the u.s. government was the main donor during that time but it was also, if you will consortium of donors from all over the world contributing to the foundational investments, if you will, in afghanistan at an early stage. most people use 2002 as the reference point, and so we see a lot of progress. we've seen a lot of progress from 2002, probably until the time that i served with ambassador wayne in afghanistan. i was there during the surge from 2010 to 2011. but i would also say that since that point progress has been more incremental if you will, slower, of course. and so even though there are a lot of good things to cite, as
jeff has done, with regard to education and with regard to health and with regard to the economy, i think the point that we -- the major crisis that we were looking at during a period of 2010, 2011 was the actual transition and the effect that the transition would have on afghanistan's governance as well as its economy. imagine more than 100,000 troops propping up the economy, and then in a short period of time a rapid scaling down of the troops. and i would say that it appears that afghanistan has weathered the worst of it, that it is hit bottom, perhaps a year and a half ago, and the economy is beginning to rebound and that's good. it reflects some of the important things that the government is doing with regard to the economy putting into place ppp law, national procurement law.
the president himself is very much engaged in running the economy as a former world bank person economist would do. he also was very much involved with ambassador wayne and me in shaping the assistance programs. let me just contrast the assistance program from back then to now. i would say at that point there was little government capacity, and we were overwhelming the government and the country with aid dollars. so there were a lot of parallel structures. what the government has done now is try to bring in both governments, the u.s. government as well as the afghan government, bringing more assistance on the books of the government so that it's a coordinated process and the government is in the lead. i can say from my experience now, i serve as a senior vice president for creative associates, we've been involved in basic education in afghanistan for more than ten years and we've seen phenomenal
progress along the way, but one thing that doesn't make it into the headlines is really the capacity of the government in the ministry of education and the government actually taking the lead. so we're often told by the government slow down, we're in charge, we're not ready to move to this district or that district. and of course, we follow the government. so it's an assistance program that is much more aligned with the government. i did say that, you know -- that it does appear that the bottoming out has taken place and the economy is on the incline, but the biggest concern obviously is security, and i'm sure will talk about that throughout this session but when we see the number or percentage of districts under government control declining, that is not a good signal to investors.
and so there are other parts of the world where in a insecure environment we'll see investment come in but it's not coming in in afghanistan for myriad of reasons. but on that, because investment isn't coming in, the economy is growing at a slow pace. the biggest concern that i have as i look at afghanistan is the demographics. it has the third largest youth bulge in the world. 65% of the population is under the age of 25. that could be either the youth curse or the youth dividend. unfortunately right now it's probably more toward the former rather than the latter. the problem is the economy is not growing quickly enough to absorb all those who are seeking jobs. 400,000 new job seekers a year come out of the university
system or the high school system looking for jobs and the jobs aren't there. and we do know that the sense of a lack of a future to include a lack of a job is one of the reasons that insecurity is being fuelled. >> the main difference for us as americans is obviously there have been no attacks against our homeland since 9/11. i think that in particular what is striking is just as the economy has begun to rebound
after the big transition in 2014, it is also the case that the security situation has held steadier than many might have expected. the fact is after the end of combat operations the end of 2014, the taliban and other insurgents threw everything they had at the afghan government and coalition forces and have not been able to actually seize and hold for any period of time any provincial capitals. the latest numbers suggest that the documegovernment retains co of territory that accounts for 21.4 afghans. whereas the taliban is in control of territory that probably holds 2 to 3 million afghans.
i don't think anyone knows exactly how many people, 4 to 5 million is the usual estimate. most of those people are young and they're connected to the outside world by telecoms in a way that has not happened ever in afghan history. afghanistan is a very different place. it is much more urbanized and -- not withstanding its very low level of development, it's much more connected to the outside world than it ever has been in the past. i think we need to be thinking about this in terms -- the conflict in terms of a rural traditionalist element versus an urban element. this is an old conflict. this goes back when tony and i were talking about whether it goes back 40 years or 100 years or longer, you could even go back to the 11th century, but it does seem to me that the weight of demographics is very much on the side of what i think all of us in this room would see as progress.
>> so my colleagues have laid out many of the achievements and some of the difficulties that we still face along the way. i think it is fair to remember that the reason we went so intensely into afghanistan or terrorists reaching out of afghanistan in to the united states, and the reason why we are still in afghanistan and are going to stay has to do with that potential terrorist threat and if you look at the broader region and afghanistan and its neighbors, there are still a lot of radicals and terrorism -- terrorists in that area and there is a real possibility that if the united states were to leave, more chaos would return to that space. so then within that context, it's also important to remember that we really didn't understand the scope and complexity of the challenges we were taking on
when we went into afghanistan. and the united states and its allies have been learning along the way. they've been working with afghan partners and allies who also have been learning along the way that are a mix of modernizers and traditionalists and they're different places on that spectrum and then in many ways we've been telescoping the process of building a more modern state in society into a period of time that it would be hard to find another nation where this is -- has taken place. it's not surprising that there's a lot of challenges. there's the regional rivalries which continue to complicate the situation in this part of the world. so it's really a complex set of challenges. as the u.s. government, i think
we've learned a lot along the way. as a coalition of partners and allies we've learned a lot along the way and one of the things we've learned is if we're going to succeed, there are a number of very important paths of action, lines of action and those need to be coordinated. they need to be coordinated well. the security actions are really important but one of the points that we're here to talk about today is that it is also essential that we have a good assistance part of that which is governance, economic development, related programs and that we have very effective diplomacy both inside afghanistan, with pakistan, inside pakistan, in the region for this all to come together and to move in a positive direction. and that remains a very tough set of challenges. so whatever you think about the policy that the united states
just announced, the real focus now is on how well is it going to be implemented? working with our afghan partners, working with the other countries in the region, trying to find a way to get pakistan to play a more constructive role, to get others with china which has a very important relationship with pakistan to play a more constructive role in moving everybody toward a political settlement. and one of the key parts of this new strategy is making more explicit, it was already there, it was already a line of action in u.s. policy before, but making more explicit that we are aiming now to move toward a political settlement where the taliban would participate in a peaceful settlement. that's going to take a lot of effort and a lot of these lines
of action and we can talk about that more but it certainly is my belief that the governance and development of assistance part of that, it's not just the united states, it's all of our -- we have many partners and allies investing very helpfully in this area. it's going to be those members of the ministries in kabul who are increasing their effectiveness and their performance and delivering services to the people in afghanistan. it is going to be the soldiers, afghan soldiers and others being more effective but it's also going to be reaching out directly and indirectly to the taliban and to others and to creating a space where there can be those political discussions. let me stop there. >> thank you very much. this is -- this is great segue for my next set of questions on the future looking towards the future of afghanistan and president trump's recent remarks. what are for you the key
components of a nonmilitary strategy in afghanistan? that's my first broad question. and the second question which ambassador wayne touched upon is, what's the biggest challenge in implementing these key components? so i invite you to answer any of these two questions. would you like to start? >> the commitment -- the new commitment to security is relatively modest and i guess the theory is by bringing in trainers and really focusing on building up the capacity of the afghan special forces that security in areas where the taliban are present or areas that are contested between the government and the taliban that there'll be able to take over --
take control of those areas, provide governance and also provide development in those areas. and i would say that, you know, the u.s. assistance program and other donors' programs are primarily working in areas where the government has control. and so if -- if the government is able to expand it's control, then moving into those areas fairly rapidly to provide opportunity to provide services will be a priority. now, i'm not saying that we go back to a counterinsurgency approach where stabilization was the primary tool, however, afghanistan with the world bank and other donors really do have an effective mechanism and that is through the nsp through its various iterations of the national solidarity program and now has become the citizens
charter. and it's a very robust model. it's operating in more than 25,000 communities throughout afghanistan and it is building at a very organic level local governance, local governance with development. my view is that that is a necessary element, almost immediately after security has been attained in new areas. and then other development will come in through education and hopefully at least some market-based economic growth but that's a longer term. >> okay. so i'm going to be a little bit provocative because i think there's some things from a private sector economic standpoint that need to be said publicly on afghanistan that haven't been said at least for the last eight years. we want to compliment president ghani to continue moving forward, import substitution
based development model. he should be focusing on marble, extractives, gemstones, agriculture of course. it's 22% of the economy. carpets and textiles as well. that's a given. we want him to continue though, more aggressively pushing independent power production throughout afghanistan and linking that production to long-term concessionary agreements that are transparently done standards act and focus on coal, gas and other hydro carbons. the world bank made the only exception in the world to do coal development for afghanistan this year and that's a big issue. afghanistan has very good quality clean burning coal and can supply an enormous amount of their energy requirements around the country. also, we need to continue fighting corruption with very high profile cases. if you've been following afghanistan, they had a four star or three star general who has been on trial and i believe has been convicted for high level corruption.
we need to increase the public financial management of the ministries especially since the only 35% of the budgeted development donor dollars for mission critical infrastructure and economic development projects are getting implemented, are getting spent. that's outrageous and that's one of the reasons that the parliament itself fired seven minsters this past year as a result of that. so now i'm going to talk about some things i think quickly that we want to stop doing and some things we want to start doing very quickly. we want to stop funding endless ministry capacity development projects and start trying to work on building a real market led economy that can sustain like earl said 400,000 new workers each year. not all of whom are in afghanistan. a lot of those are refugee returnees that had when you look at the numbers, they actually have some of them college educations. they've been working successfully outside the country and are now forced to come back and getting resettled and have skills that they can be applied too.
it is the private sector that's going to build them. not more government ministry capacity that's going to be a sustainable plan for them long-term. we'd like to see a private sector development plan for 2018 to 2023 that is designed, written and implemented by the afghan private sector. there needs to be a bigger voice and in the policies and programs that they're implementing. i give you one example. i'd like to stop according to the recent world bank report they're now because of the workout situation that afghanistan is going through, the bank is advocating that they spend no more money right now on mission critical infrastructure and economic investments because they're bad for growth. the multiplier, this is a term that the bank uses, the multiplier is a negative. where they would like us to spend more money going forward is on social investments in specifically cash transfers and some other areas, health and education.
they think that multiplier will be more positive. this is at a critical point i think pivot point for the country economically. they have to have infrastructure investment in agriculture, irrigation systems, energy, mineral extraction, ict. that's not going to get done without the donor community being in sync on this. next i think the u.s. government needs to dump the current tifa. it's the basically -- it's a short bilateral agreement on how we're going to run our economic relationship together. it is not been amended since 2004. it is outdated. it is inappropriate to continue to try to build a bilateral economic relationship between the two countries with an archaic and very weak, frankly, agreement between us. what we'd like to do and i base some of this based on my observations of the brussels conference where i was able to sit in on some of these meetings where i was shocked at how even more upset frankly than the u.s. government is, our other donors in europe are upset about
afghanistan. we'd like to see a bilateral economic relationship from here on going forward where the private sector has a part in a tifa led partnership. there's a council that would form and meet bilateral when the governments are meeting so we can better integrate the private sector led growth strategy longer term tied into quarterly bench marks like the administration is now holding the government accountable for but with private sector aspects of it more fully integrated. a couple last points. i think jer roya is a government of afghanistan is very focused on the wto integration and implementation and assess but i don't want that to take the appalachian of building strong economic relationships with the united states. right now there is no bilateral tax, bilateral trade, bilateral investment agreement between the united states and afghanistan. after 15 years of our blood and treasure we have none of the basic foundational instruments with afghanistan.
we have them with pakistan, india and all of the other stans. we have those agreements already in place. that needs to get fix. this needs to be a priority of both governments to set up these foundations because no u.s. multi-national that might have regional offices in delhi or in karachi is going to come in and invest or allow any of their personnel in and basic trade protections and none of that exists right now. lastly is capital. i think capital is from the afghanistan perspective capital say key issue right now. there is only 2% of afghan businesses are using private banks to fund their investments and to invest. all of it is coming out of their pockets or out of other investors from the uae and dubai and other places. what we want to see is the afghan central bank loosen its overly conservative lending rules on capital and finance for the business sector. now a lot of those rules were
put in place after the kabul bank scandal but what happens, they went to an extreme now and now they are offering a higher percentage of earnings for banks to just put their money into the central bank and earn it and not lend that money or capital that is there and available for investment out to businesses that could invest in hotels and marketplaces and light manufacturing facilities or mineral extraction and other things. we'd like to see the bank and usaid work more carefully, maybe opec has a role here, and some other types of tools, first loss risk sharing tools that can help us to get capital flowing again inside the economy. right now it's not happening. and i'll leave it there. >> okay. i think we're asked to talk a little bit about the future of afghanistan as we see it and in the context of current u.s.
policy and i would just make a couple of observations quickly on current policy. first of all, it's been widely remarked it's a nontimeline based approach in terms of the military forces and there's a modest increase in our military forces and of course as everyone has noted a harder line with pakistan, at least publicly. i would say none of these things are actually dramatically new, even the nontime line based deployment. the last decision the president obama made on troops that is to retain troops at about the 8,400 level was nontimeline based. it was conditions based. it wasn't widely noted at the time but it is true. and on the increase of troops i think there's nothing particularly from my perspective -- on the discussions during the obama administration about the troop levels that were there so all of
these things represent a gradual shifting in emphasis in u.s. policy rather than a radical departure, although it is important that the -- that the formal statement of conditions based is policy going forward. what is is a little bit less clear to me is what the u.s. government sees as the overall objective, the central objective to pursue our engagement in afghanistan and it seems to me that what it boils down to for the u.s. government there are two broad options for policy going forward. one is a long war that is where we continue to harden the afghan state has it has developed over the past 16 years and a lot of the accomplishments have already been highlighted against
insurgents and the other alternative it seems to me broadly is to attempt to foster and pursue a political settlement. again, i look at this in the perspective political settlement of the conflict. i look at this in the context of afghanistan having been in a state of civil war for at least the last 40 years. i also look at it in the context having been in pakistan as u.s. ambassador of the fact that the taliban has a safe haven in pakistani territory and the record of counterinsurgencies against insurgency that have a foreign safe haven is pretty grim. so for those reasons, i am a proponent of pursuing a political settlement with the
taliban and it seems to me that that has to be actually the central objective of u.s. policy. you can read that in to the president's remarks of 21st august. he did talk about a possible political settlement at some point in the future. i have yet to meet a four-star general who doesn't at least privately admit that is one with afghan experience that this is going to end in a political settlement and not in an outright military victory. so it seems to me that if that is indeed the case, we should make political settlement a central element of u.s. policy and we should pursue it. political settlement to my mind does not mean that the taliban is one day going to wake up and sue for peace. i think that's a very unlikely scenario. i don't think the taliban is
winning but i also don't think they think they are losing. and so there has to be some modality to use a diplomatic bit of jargon for the taliban and the u.s. government in the international community as a whole and regional actors to discuss the issues and a way forward, the issues that divide them. so i think if i were to identify the thing that i see as potentially missing in a fully articulated u.s. policy and i hope someone has given some thought to, is the need to bring about some kind of diplomatic process that includes the region and includes those who are fighting, at least the taliban. i don't think -- but those who are -- the insurgents who have been fighting against the afghan government and in some sense, in some ways, and this can be
overstretched as a historical analysis but in some sense represent a group of people that has been fighting for the last 40 years. >> i think that as my colleagues comments have made clear, the challenges about weaving together lines of actions inside afghanistan and in the region to actually get to a positive outcome, inside afghanistan it's exactly right that there are very important things that can hopefully be done in the economy, in governance and this is going to be a combination of working with the government but also other political forces in the country. it's really important to remember that relationships between the government and parliament in afghanistan are not too smooth at the moment. relationships within the government still need to be smoothed out at times. in that sense this kabul compact is going to be an important bilateral mechanism for measuring progress and helping facilitate progress and it needs to do that.
it needs to go forward, even though we're asking a lot of afghanistan to change and press forward, we need to ask that as part of facilitating a broader settlement and these things aren't easy, but they're also going to need actors outside the government to participate in this. there are elections that are supposed to be coming up in afghanistan, parliamentary elections and presidential elections and that means they'll be other political forces that need to be dealt with, not that we should be directing afghan politics but we need to understand what's going on in afghan politics and we and our other partners, international partners, can be facilitators and need to talk to the various actors in this process as it goes forward. but i think this compact of these regular meetings between the top senior level afghan and u.s. officials can be very helpful in that process. but not separated from the other donors. this is not just a bilateral
deal going on here. it is really important that -- there are these several score other donors working there that there are about 30 countries that have troops of one or another contributing on the military side. this is important part of what's going on. and those allies and partner are going to be key if we're able to move ahead in this regional process, also. they could help facilitate that, they can be supportive of it. so coalition management as you might call it or partner management is a really important line of action going forward. and then i think as rick correctly said, if you look -- if you try to break it down until the actual lines of action, a lot of it is outside of afghanistan, but working in close coordination with what you're doing in afghanistan. this is a big set of diplomatic tasks and you can just look at
where rick was ambassador, all the politics and diplomatic maneuvering needed inside pakistan to get a useful dialogue going with pakistan. there are other tools in this process but the key is going to be is there a dialogue that can actually bring us closer together in moving toward a common objective. and i do think as rick was saying there is a lot of definition defining that still needs to go on in where we want to be in several years and as you notice the president's policy also talked about the indian-pakistan rivalry and saying this has to be seen in that context. there again is a long-standing set of very difficult issues, that, yes, it will be great to work and try to reduce that rivalry but thinking through how you do that, how you'll integrate it into what we're doing in afghanistan, what we're doing on the pakistan-afghanistan border, et cetera, a big task. so there's a lot to do here and it's going to demand a very
nuanced and well coordinated u.s. effort. >> thank you. i just have a follow-up question on regional actors. how do you see the role of china and russia going forward? that's my last question then we'll open up the last 30 minutes for q&a for the public. >> so i think also in regional actors you have to -- one has to include india as well. and i'll talk about india because i think russia and china certainly russia on the security side say potential negative influencer and china more along the lines of investment and pakistan i think that's more suitable for ambassador olson. india is also an important player and ambassador wells who
is our acting assistant secretary for south asia, she may be the acting -- during the negotiations in the region, it was in india very recently yesterday, for example. and it's not just helping to forge security ties and strengthen diplomatic ties between afghanistan and india but it's also the economic aspects and india has been a major player in supporting development in afghanistan. they recently inaugurated the freedom dam if you will but it's also to try and promote commercial ties and -- and i know that there is a commitment on the part of india to expand and afghanistan to expand trade
over the next three to four years by i believe the target is $5 billion. i know that the u.s. assistance program is helping to do that as well, that's a main focus. so india i think will become an important player, certainly on the commercial side for the u.s. >> just on the economic side, so from a commercial trade and import/export perspective, pakistan is still the larger importer with 39%. india is way behind but catching up now at 9%. china only at 6.1% where exports from afghanistan commodity trade exports which includes obviously largely opium as well. there's hand woven carpets, fruits and nuts, the official number that don't include opium, india's at 43.6% and pakistan at 28%. regionally their biggest trading partners are their next door neighbors. the chinese have come in and
attempted to strike for lack of a better word grant bargains on mineral extraction, gas, rail lines, trying to do a lot economically that will help the chinese commercial engine but not necessarily to help the afghan commercial engine especially since some of those deals were cut directly with regional governors and not with the central government and we still have -- i think it's right now 70% of the real afghan economy is informal still at this time. so a lot of their trading partners and major players like china are extracting minerals and resources that are not going through any type of government revenue process or concessionary process but instead are focused on militia leaders, et cetera. >> so on the regional dimension, i would add a couple of
countries to the list that we've been talking about in addition to china and russia, i think as already been noted, india and pakistan are hugely important and iran is not insignificant. and i think that if we look on the political side of things, what we have seen is an increase in behedging strategies by almost all of these regional players except maybe india. russia and iran have been building their relationships with the taliban despite let us say a lack of ideological and religious affinity especially on the part of iran. pakistan has never really abandoned the hedgeen strategy with regard to afghanistan. what has changed quite a bit from a political standpoint over the past 16 years is that china has become much more engaged in the region and if there's one piece of positive news in all of this i think it's that china and the united states largely share a common perception with regard
to afghanistan and even to some extent with regard to pakistan, that is a concern about ungoverned spaces emerging in afghanistan and in pakistan from which attacks on the respective homelands can be made. in the case of china, it's of course the islamic movement which has had safe haven of sorts in the border areas. i think that, you know, just to focus for a little bit for a moment on pakistan in particular because i think this is a critical question and one that's central to u.s. policy right now, what has not perhaps received as much discussion as it needs to right now is the question of what leverage the united states actually has over -- over pakistan. there's a considerable emphasis on the assistance that we have provided to afghanistan -- to pakistan over the past decade and a half, the most recent which about 7.5 billion assistance and substantially more over the years in security
there have been groups that can help facilitate, but if you don't have those groups, some not so friendly friends will go off on their own way, and make it much more complicated to make it to a peaceful solution. and there are a lot of good economic things that can be done for pakistan and afghanistan if you can get the pipelines and transmission lines agreed and working. and purpose of the trade with india being so low, pakistan won't let anything across to
india. they would buy a lot more from india, so that's more important to work on the india/pakistan rivalry. it's hard, important, but it's hard to do. so, all of this leads to the conclusion that, my conclusion, that we need a very active regional policy with the mind within mind, how do we incentivize a path to a negotiated solution using those other actors that can be useful? none of them except, i mean, i think pakistan is the greatest influence on the taliban. but there can be a mass there that can make a positive difference, if they're -- they'll mess things up if they don't like what's going on. and i still remember back to the first donor conferences that we had in the fall of 2001, and the beginning of 2002 in afghanistan.
iran was there, and they actually wanted to play a constructive role at that time for ideological reasons, there are some areas where we may be able to find some common ground, if we can talk to them and bring them into the process in some constructive way. big question mark. i'll end there. >> thank you very much. now we have about 25 minutes for q and a from the public. so, we'll take about two to three questions at a time. we'll answer those, and then go to the next round. there are microphones at the -- yes. so, let's take these two, the
lady and gentleman, can you please identify yourself and your affiliation? >> hi, i'm samira daniels, i'm very interested in the future of pakistan, afghanistan, and india. because according to my father, we were possibly converts from hinduism to islam. it's a very complex ethnic background. i would like ambassador wayne and ambassador olsen to explain who you call the taliban.
because this question has been so convoluted and responsible for the chaos and drawbacks to the strategy, is a result of the confusion of the taliban, and the refugees that went into pakistan and during the soviet invasion. thanks. >> i'm a counselor in the afghan embassy. my question is, who are the taliban? they have never renounced al qaida. they are working together with the islamic movement of afghanistan, other terrorist organizations, you name them. and the insistence has been
that -- we don't know. should we seek a political settlement from the taliban that is not departing from the terrorist organizations, killing the afghan people? and when it comes to pakistan, we have always been open to that sincere dialogue with them. but sincere dialogue does not take place. we think the united states should draw the line with pakistan, with us or against us is the question. if they continue this getting
away with public statements that they denounce terrorism, promise they will help take action against them, and at the end of the day, nothing happens, i think the only thing is to focus more also on the military side of the issue, and embed it with the political and diplomatic. and you mentioned that some modalities can be pursued, i would love to hear an explanation. >> you said some modalities for this political settlement here. >> i'll let you do this first, because you worked on it. >> or did you want to go, tim?
okay, who are the taliban? i think that the taliban is actually a relatively coherent organization. i mean, we can identify who its primary leaders are. and we can identify the fact that it has several governing bodies. the paramount governing body, with city names in pakistan, and there are a group of the taliban political commission, which has the responsibility of dealing with foreigners, and ultimately, presumably for negotiating with foreigners, does have an informal presence in qatar.
and to jump to my colleague's question about modalities, i would say that the first step in a modality, the first step in getting a peace process going, to attempt again what was attempted in 2014, reopen the taliban office for the purposes of discussing peace in a publicly recognized way. the second step, bring in the regional players who are so significant. and i think we've identified all of them. there are a lot of challenges there, bringing in, there's a great difficulty bringing india and pakistan into the same room on afghanistan. that's a huge challenge that i won't underestimate. but it's one you want to pursue as a way forward. i fully agree with you that the taliban has not renounced, at
least not definitively, has not renounced any ties with al qaida or with international terrorist organizations. there are some hints in various eid statements put out in the name of mullah omar, but there has not been a formal break. and it's well established, the afghan government's position is that, as an end condition, the taliban will have to renounce terrorism, break with al qaida, and respect the afghan constitution. and those are end conditions, and that was also the policy of the united states to have them
as end conditions. but i think it's unrealistic to expect that what are perceived as concessions to be made at the outset of a process. they'll be made at the end of a process, and i think the principal taliban demand for the united states is the withdrawal of foreign forces. it seems to me, there is a space there for diplomatic negotiation, and discussion. and i think that the only way we'll be able to actually find out whether a deal is possible is if we get into that negotiating space and begin to talk about these coer issues. -- core issues. >> just to add, i think it's exactly right, there are different parts of the taliban. but they have different unifying political bodies, they argue
among themselves, there are differences between the local taliban that fight in one province, and are in the taliban. it's true, and it takes often just a long process to start engaging, defining what they really want, what the government really wants, and finding a common ground. you just need to engage and keep trying, and there will be a lot of failed efforts, but you try to create the conditions, so the benefit of a political settlement becomes more positive. look how long it took in colombia to come to a political settlement. a lot of failed starts, and a
good process that got turned off for a while, got turned back on again. and a referendum by the people that caused it to be revisited again. it's a hard process, but you've got to start. certainly from the u.s. perspective, the groups that attack specifically u.s. persons, civilians, and others, are the least acceptable of those. and that will be part of the discussion during the negotiations, those who use terrorism. but as rick said, that will be part of the initial discussion, and hopefully you'll get to a common solution, and i'm sure that's the same from the point of view of the afghan government as well. this is going to be tough, but if we don't try this path, it's unlikely to find a solution
where there has been a sanctuary, it's hard to find. >> and one point about the coherence, we have done a deal with the taliban. the release of oberg dahl was, he was released in response to negotiations with political commission, which is to say, the representative, so it does suggest there's a degree of coherence in the organization. >> i'll take two questions from the left, and then two questions from the right.
[ inaudible ] >> i already did. the lady in blue, and then the gentleman here. >> thanks very much for this wide-ranging discussion. one topic that has been conspicuously absent from conversations around the august 21st policy is women's role in the self-reliance conflict resolution and security of afghanistan. how can the new policy effectively incorporate the educational achievements, economic advancement, and leadership of women in afghanistan's future, while avoiding backsliding in women's rights? >> i can take maybe the economic --
>> we're taking two questions. >> "o." -- oh. >> thank you very much, excellent discussion. just a quick comment on columbia, i'm going to be an optimist here. but one thing to think about very much getting ahead of myself is accompanying the implementation of a peace agreement. it's not just you sign it and we're done. two questions for ambassador olsen, the i wonder if you could, not to put you on the spot, but maybe speculate on the broad outlines of a deal could look like between the taliban and the government, and in terms of leverage with pakistan, i'm wondering if you could comment on the importance of trade
between pakistan and the u.s., how that, is that a source of leverage or not? thank you. >> want to do women first? my wife is listening. >> sure. let me say, the constitution of afghanistan protects the rights of women. and i believe the president is very serious about women's rights, education for women. employment opportunities for women. unfortunately, as they have been disadvantaged for years, their own development is quite limited in terms of comparison with men. if you look at things like illiteracy rates, double that of men. but the usa's largest program is focused on women's empowerment, and trying to build the quality
and skills of women so they can become leaders in the parliament, in schools, in the economy. >> a couple of ideas on that. so, with women in the economy and government institutions, it's been a critical part of u.s. assistance for 11, 12 years. so, that money was put into our budgets to fund not only usaid, but that money has been there, and it's still there. this administration has had two budgets they can influence and it's still there. the new budget that came out yesterday has maintenance on the afghanistan budgets to a large degree, and it's likely they will continue. and i think there hasn't been any major announcement that the
administration is going to pull back from that. and i rest that also on the fact that dina powell, one of the president's closest advisers, was a big focus for her. on the issue of vocational training, when the united states went in, we saw a primary focus on health care implementation, not through men but through women. and they're the capacity of the health ministry, and they're the ones who implemented the vaccination programs that have taken child deaths down to record numbers. and cell phone penetration, over 92%, and that means, a woman in a rural village can get the call from a midwife saying she's coming in and have her children there, as opposed to before, she would have to get on a horse, or a ride on a bus and go four,
>> a quick word on women. before, i gave a quick version of reconciliation, and it would be a topic i would envision would have to be an important part of any political settlement. i think once one got a modality under way, whatever form it takes, there would have to be a very serious discussion of women's issues. and i suspect that the president and the national unity government would want a strong women's representative component in any discussions that took place. and i think certainly, the gains of the past 16 years have to be preserved. and that heads us into the outlines of the formula, what is the deal that has to be worked? and i don't think it's possible
until negotiations begin, but i would break it down into three buckets. the purely internal domestic afghan issues, that have driven a civil war over the course of the last 40 years. the regional dimension, and the question, at least how the taliban would define it, of the foreign forces. our presence through nato over the past 16 years. if i were working on this, i would be looking to get some evidence of breaking of links between the taliban and al qaeda and other terrorist groups. and in return for those breakages, begin to think about some kind of phased withdrawal of foreign forces. but the devil is in the details, and you have to make sure there's something enforceable and reversible if assurances
don't turn into a reality. the external element, something that has stayed in principle to the negotiating process, but afghan territory can't be used there's something enforceable and reversible if assurances don't turn into a reality. the external element, something simpler to state in principle than it probably would be to negotiate in process, but the idea is the afghan territory cannot be a threat to anyone in the region. cannot be used against anyone else. and there are, of course, i have talked about the safe havens on the pakistani side of the border, but of course, if there were a pakistani representative here, he would say there are safe havens on the afghan side of the border of the tpp and
daish. so those issues need to be addressed. and finally, there are the internal set of issues, and i think that these have to be addressed, obviously, this is when we talk about an afghan-led, afghan-owned peace process, this is really the core issue that has to be afghan-led and afghan-owned and which foreigners aren't going to have much to say, except perhaps to set some broad boundaries on what they can find acceptable and sign up to or not sign up to, but i think there will have to be some discussion amongst, between the taliban and the afghan government. of the constitution, whether it needs to be amended, and perhaps how the taliban can on the model of the farc, come into the afghan political process in a peaceful way. and i don't think we can prejudge that, except to say
afghans do have some very ready made institutions for addressing these questions. afghan politics is all about reconciliation, and i would see this developing through, so it's not hard to imagine in principle how this could be brought about. the final thing i would say on this, we shouldn't underestimate the marriage emergence of daesh, of the islamic state, as a new factor that changes the dynamic somewhat. it is not, and i'm speaking in a speculative way, it is not out of the realm of the possible that that has changed the taliban's calculation on foreign forces, and that's something to be discussed. i don't think it's out of the realm of the possible that the
taliban would accept some gradual phased withdrawal over a long period if that would help to insure afghan stability and contain conflict with daesh. oh, yeah. leverage on pakistan. well, look, it's true that pakistan and the u.s. -- the u.s. has been pakistan's largest trading partner over the years. i don't know if that's still true, i haven't looked at the numbers recently, and i suspect in this regard, china is probably moving ahead. i'm not sure how much, i don't think it offers much leverage in a negative sense. i don't think there is anything that we would want to do to reduce our exports to pakistan, we don't import much from pakistan. in a positive sense, of course,
there is a huge potential incentive for pakistan in that it's a textile producing country. if it were able to import its textiles into the united states under more favorable terms, that would be a big boon to the pakistani economy. but frank, my sense is first that no one is really thinking about carrots right now, and second, trade deals in and of themselves, well, i leave it to the collective sense of the audience whether this administration is going to pursue trade deals. and especially free trade deals. so potentially, you know, it's interesting, but i don't see it as something that has a real immediate opportunity. >> just to be very quick, two things. one, i do think the frontier between afghanistan and pakistan and enhancing security there can be part of a confidence building and trust building process.
it should be if we're able to move this forward because there are people operating on both sides of the border against the other country. secondly, i do think, of course, the women's issue is very important, and it's important that people keep making sure that that's brought up and considered as things go forward. but i think there will be a lot of voices from the united states, of course, supporting that, and we have all dedicated a lot of time and effort to helping the role of women in afghanistan expand. >> thank you. just one final question from the right? >> i just have a comment. i have been working in afghanistan for the last 14 years. outside the wire. for those of you who have been in afghanistan, you understand what i mean when i say outside the wire. i have witnessed our successes and failures in afghanistan. i think there are three major successes we've accomplished
over the year. first, the political structure in afghanistan. second is the laws and constitution. it's well advanced and nobody has that in the area in that region. third, a free press. that, i would say, nobody has in that area. our failures, economy. okay. specifically, employment, or unemployment. today, if you want to be employed in afghanistan, you have only one industry to go to and it's called the war industry. either you get hired by taliban or by the afghan army. either way, you're dead six months later. taliban pays $400 or $500, and afghan only pays $200 to $250. that's the sad story in afghanistan. but an even greater problem,
everything in afghanistan is being dissolved by politics. and i hear that with you guys. here's the issue with afghanistan. you have -- let's suppose somebody needs a -- has an appendix and needs a surgeon, but the very first thing that happens, they will go to the foreign ministry in afghanistan, the american embassy, they all get together in order to get a surgeon to give the person a surgery. that's the issue in afghanistan. nobody has defined the problem, the actual problems in afghanistan. and finally, i don't want to take much of your time, that is, we have to go back for those of us who have been around for a bit longer, that what candidate bill clinton said in 1989. it's economy, stupid. the economy. that's the whole issue in afghanistan. that's it.
>> thank you. any final comments? >> i would agree with your premise. i think, i don't want it to be just the economy. i think when you say the economy to president ghani, he thinks the government economy. when he says it to me, i want it to be a private sector market led economy in afghanistan, because i think that's the only way to build sustainable growth. they can't continue at 2% growth. in order to absorb the workload, the workers coming in, they need to grow at 6% to 8% per year. they're not going to hit that without the private sector being the economic engine of afghanistan. so everybody should focus on the private sector solution, and i would even posit that if you want to have progress with the taliban, you need to talk about economic diplomacy and jobs and how they can get integrated into a formal economy. that's not going to happen unless there's a private sector
there to hire people and to train farmers, not to grow poppy. >> i'll just end and say certainly the objective of the government and the donors is the right objective. private sector-led growth. looking at least in this interim period, targeting high-value exports into the region. the real question is, is the strategy right and are the implementing mechanisms the right ones to achieve that? and that's obviously something that needs to be analyzed and discussed further. >> i would say, at the end of the day, there's no question that economic issues are ultimately what will determine the success of afghanistan. but i think it's a question of sequencing. and the experience i've had and much of the developing world
over a 35-year career is that if you have a political compact, and then have economic development, it works better than if you try to foster economic development without a political compact. >> just to add on that final process, we do have a framework and process agreed on reviewing what progress is being made or not made in the economic or governance area. the problem is making it actually work and have teeth and produce results. we haven't been so good in doing that. if we can do that over the next year or two, in addition to working in these other areas, i think we can hopefully see some good progress. >> well, thank you for our panelists and the rich discussion we had today, and all of you for being here and your questions. this concludes the session. [ applause ]
president trump has arrived at the united nations in new york with ambassador nikki haley for a week of u.n. meetings. his big speech to the international body will be toorment, but today, the president is spaunonsoring an et on reforming the united nations. more clearly defining its mission around the world. >> we affirm our commitment to the united nations reform and
reform is what we're talking about. i applaud the secretary-general for laying out a vision to reform the united nations so that it better serves the people we all represent. we support your efforts to look across the entire system and to find ways the united nations can better and be better at development, management, peace, and security. the united nations was founded on truly noble goals. these include affirming the dignity and worth of the human person and striving for international peace. the united nations has helped advance toward these goals in so many ways, feeding the hungry, providing disaster relief, and empowering women and girl s in many societies all across the world. >> the senate returns today at
3:00 p.m. eastern to finish work on the fiscal year 2018 defense bill. final passage could come as early as this evening. watch the senate live on c-span2. >> the house is not in session this week. members return from a district work period on september 25th when they'll take up faa reauthorization and c.h.i.p., the children's health insurance program. funding for those programs expires at the end of the month. watch the house live on c-span. >> hillary clinton talks about her new book this evening, recounting the 2016 presidential campaign and election. c-span will have live coverage of her conversation with her former aide and politics and pro book store co-owner regarding her memoir "what happened." that will be live at 7:00 eastern on c-span. >> it's that time of year to
announce our 2018 student cam video documentary competition. help us spread the word to middle school and high school students and their teachers. this year's theme is the constitution and you. and we're asking students to choose a provision of the u.s. constitution and create a video illustrating why it is important. our competition is open to all middle school and high school students, grades 6 through 12. students can work alone or in a group of up to three and produce a five to seven-minute documentary on the provision selected. include some c-span and also explore opposing opinions. $100,000 will be awarded in cash prizes. the grand prize of $5,000 will go to the student or team with the best overall entry. the deadline is january 18th, 2018. to mark your calendars and help us spread the word to students filmmakers. for more information, go to our website, studentcam.org. urban school superintendents
recently held their annual conference to talk about education policy. up next, superintendent of the washoe county, nevada, school district, traci davis, talks about closing the achievement gap and the importance of community engagement. following her is 2014 national poetry slam champion clint davis. who recited poems from his book "counting dissent." this is about an hour and a half. >> i want to give you a little background about -- are you going to be the clicker? okay. about washoe county school district. we have the 59th largest dwiktd in the nation. we have 64,000 students and growing, as you can see the amount of square miles i cover, it's pretty large. we are rural. we are suburban, we are urban, and we are actually the largest employer in northern nevada with over 8,000 employees. okay.