Friday, December 15, 2006

Interview With Condoleezza Rice -- Washington Post

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think the government has reached out beyond Kabul. But I agree, it isn't the kind of extensive control of the country that one would hope for. Look, I think Afghanistan -- for a country that went through 25 years of civil war that essentially has no infrastructure, I mean no roads, no electricity, where one of the biggest problems we face in recruitment of police is illiteracy, Afghanistan has, I would argue, done pretty well. I know that's a contrary view, but I have to say that it's one by one met its problems. You know, the problem was going to be that warlords like Ismail Kahn were never going to vote. Ismail Khan is the minister of something and industry in Kabul these days. I mean, they've made a lot of progress. -- They've also got a remarkable commitment from NATO, not perfect but we are -- NATO, when I was at the NATO summit, what really struck me was the degree to which the NATO leaders and the NATO ministers now see Afghanistan as theirs, as really NATO's strongest and most important commitment. And I think that will matter over time. -- Afghanistan really suffers from three problems and we just have to attack them. One is an economic development problem. They just don't have a basis for an economy at this point and so it's one reason that poppy is what it is. Somebody once -- somebody said to me not too long ago Afghanistan was a great land bridge until people discovered the sea. And so you're not going to be able to build an economy again on kind of tariffs, and so finding the center of an Afghan economy is not easy and it's going to be very important. But in order to do that, you've got to do things like build roads. One of our military officers when I was out there said I'll give you two brigades for some roads in Afghanistan. And so we now are attacking in a strategic way the road network in Afghanistan. -- SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm not sure it will be quite triple, but we're going to make a big commitment to Afghanistan. We need to, particularly on the reconstruction side, particularly on the reconstruction side.


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