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20

DECEMBER 2014

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

Afghanistan is at another

turning point. Though the challenges

are great, the nation cannot a ord

to cycle back into civil war.

BY EDMUND MCWI L L I AMS

FOCUS

Edmund McWilliams, a retired Foreign Service o cer,

served as special envoy to Afghanistan from 1988 to

1989. He joined the Foreign Service in 1975 and retired

in 2001, having served in Vientiane, Bangkok, Moscow,

Kabul, Islamabad, Managua, Jakarta andWashing-

ton, D.C. As chargé, he opened embassies in Bishkek and Dushanbe after

the breakup of the Soviet Union. Since retirement, he has been volunteer-

ing with U.S. and foreign human rights nongovernmental organizations.

ON AFGHANISTAN

WILL HISTORY

REPEAT ITSELF?

F

or the second time in a quarter-century,

Afghanistan is in the midst of a historic

transition. As in 1989, when Soviet troops

left the country after a decade of occupa-

tion, the international community is in

the process of ratcheting down its security

presence and its foreign assistance levels.

is pullback comes as Ashraf Ghani

Amadzai, Afghanistan’s new president,

and Chief Executive O cer Abdullah Abdullah grapple with the

same challenges that confronted Hamid Karzai’s administration.

As Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

John Sopko noted in a Sept. 12 speech at Georgetown University,

the country “remains under assault by insurgents and is short of