With NATO pondering its future in Afghanistan, former U.S. General James Jones said Monday at a NATO-related gathering that there cannot be an active solution for Afghanistan without solving the unrest in Pakistan.
Appearing at a NATO-related conference for young international professionals, Jones said the fate of the two nations are directly intertwined.
Jones, a former U.S. Marine General and President Barack Obama’s national security advisor, has been outspoken on his views regarding a successful withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“I do not understand it because it is not logical,” he said of Pakistan’s reluctance to cooperate with the U.S. on joint strategy for Afghanistan and the region.
He said that watching the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan develop has been the most frustrating part of his career.
Jones said that he has “always believed the future of Afghanistan is directly tied to Pakistan” because of the dynamic flow of information, culture and worldview between countries.
His views about the need for a solution that reaches beyond Afghanistan was backed up by Chuck Hagel, chairman of the Atlantic Council.
“These are regional missions,” said Hagel, a former Republican in the U.S. Senate from Nebraska, adding that it would not be realistic to bring a lasting change to Afghanistan alone.
In a frank assessment of NATO’s actions, Jones said that NATO wasted time focusing on combat alone. He said that the country’s laws and economic security should have been developed in parallel. Now, however, we are “playing catch up.”
Jones and Hagel agreed that the people of Afghanistan will ultimately decide their country’s fate.
Jones also said that NATO must “pivot” to remain relevant in the 21st century.
NATO was conceived as a reactive alliance, said the former national security chief, but the 21st century needs it to be proactive.
“Not preemptive,” he said, “but engaging.”
He said that the most important role NATO can take moving forward is as a bridge between the developed world and the developing world. Developed countries should help developing ones from choosing extremism he said.
“If NATO was simply a military organization you call when there’s a fire, it’s already too late,” Jones continued.
NATO’s two-day conference in Chicago came to a conclusion with a call from President Barak Obama and others for continued cooperation among NATO’s members and partners to stabilize the long-troubled nation.
NATO officials emphasized their efforts to meet the goal of withdrawing their combined military presence from Afghanistan and turning over military control to the Afghanis.