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
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.
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