Date/Time
Date(s) - 05/24/2019
8:00 am - 10:00 am

Location
Sands Regency Hotel

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Sand’s Regency Hotel Casino

345 N. Arlington

“Afghanistan: The Cost of Staying vs. the Cost of Leaving”

A Presentation and Discussion with

Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann (ret.)
President, American Academy of Diplomacy

May 24th at 9:00 am The Sands Hotel & Casino

“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Afghanistan’s president over the weekend to express Washington’s disappointment over the indefinite postponement of Afghan talks with the Taliban, according to a statement released Monday. The talks were scheduled to start this coming Friday in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain an office, but were scuttled after a falling-out between the two sides over who should attend.” (22 April 2019, article by Kathy Gannon, Associated Press)

Ambassador Ronald Neumann (ret) knows the complexity of war and peace in Afghanistan, having served as U.S. Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. Growing up with Afghanistan as part of his family’s story, Amb Neumann learned about the country first hand when his father (Ambassador Robert G. Neumann) served in the same post, 1966-1973. That was long before the U.S. was drawn into our longest war in a country that provided refuge and a base of operations for Osama bin Laden.

Three Administrations have been embroiled in the U.S.-Afghan War that began on October 7th, 2001 in retaliation for the attacks of September 11th. The U.S.-NATO Coalition, in collaboration with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, ousted the Taliban from power shortly after the invasion began. Supported by Pakistan the Taliban took control of the Afghan government in 1996, imposing an extreme form of Islam and providing Osama bin Laden with a safe haven to plan the 9/11 attacks. U.S. objectives for the Afghan War were to remove the Taliban from power, locate and bring bin Laden to account, and promote a new government in Afghanistan that would ally with the U.S. and renounce terrorism.

At the height of our military operations in Afghanistan, the U.S. deployed over 140,000 troops. At present there are approximately 14,000 Americans (military and civilians) in country with an additional 8,000 troops serving from allied countries. Since the war began, 2,300 U.S. military and 1,700 civilians have been killed and 20,300 were wounded. U.S. allies have lost 3,450 combatants and Afghanistan has experienced over 32,000 fatalities (military and civilians) with approximately 60,000 wounded. In recent years, the Taliban has reemerged leading a vicious guerilla war that now controls nearly half of the country.

The Afghan war has cost the U.S. much blood and treasure. Costs are estimated at $83 billion to build and sustain Afghan security forces, $132 billion for reconstruction aid, and $1 trillion in military costs. The country is tired of the war and skeptical that continued engagement there is worth the price. Nearly 18 years after the U.S invasion began, the Trump Administration is reassessing U.S. policies, strategies and military operations to bring an end to the Afghan war without relinquishing the original objective of denying terrorists a safe haven in the country. On December 20th, 2018, President Trump announced that he would withdraw 7,000 U.S. troops this year with the remainder returning home by the end of 2020.

Peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, with and without inclusion of the governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, have been ongoing since 2010. Amb Neumann will walk us through the complexity of these negotiations and shed light on the divergent politics that have stymied progress. He will share his insight on what is at stake now for the U.S. and how President Trump’s current strategy differs from that of his predecessors.

In September 2018, President Trump appointed Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation. Amb Khalilzad is an Afghan-American who served as Ambassador to both Afghanistan and Iraq in the Bush Administration. Over the last six months he has held several meetings with the Taliban and Afghan government. Despite the abrupt cancellation of the proposed talks with the Taliban and Afghan government, scheduled to be held this Friday April 26th in Qatar, Amb Khalilzad is embarking on a multi-country trip next week to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Qatar, Russia and the United Kingdom to encourage all parties to support a final peace settlement.

Amb Khalilzad is scheduled to return to the U.S. on May 11th and Amb Neumann promises to bring NSF a timely “up to the minute” update on the state of those negotiations. He will share his thoughts on the prospects for ending our longest war, while preserving a lasting peace. Many challenges remain for the U.S. in achieving these goals including objections from Afghan’s current President Ashraf Ghani, Russia’s parallel negotiations with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan’s continued support for the Taliban, India’s push for stability in Afghanistan to counter Pakistan’s influence there, the Taliban’s involvement in poppy cultivation and the drug trade, and the growing influence of ISIS in the region.

Amb Neumann will offer his own informed opinion regarding the prospects for an effective U.S. troop withdrawal, leaving a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, and the challenges of reconstructing a country plagued by war for centuries.For those interested in learning more about our speaker, he has just published an autobiography “Three Embassies, Four Wars: A personal memoir” available on Amazon at: Three Embassies-Four Wars

Ronald E. Neumann, President, American Academy of Diplomacy, was formerly Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, Ronald E. Neumann served three times as Ambassador; to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. A book on his time in Afghanistan is The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan. Before Afghanistan, Mr. Neumann served in Baghdad from February 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then as Embassy Baghdad’s principal liaison with the Multinational Command. In earlier positions he was Director of the Office for Iran and Iraq, Deputy Chief of Mission in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and in Sanaa in Yemen, and Principal Officer in Tabriz, Iran. After earning a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science from the University of California at Riverside he served as an infantry officer in Vietnam (’69-70). His autobiography Three Embassies, Four Wars; a personal memoir, is available on Amazon. He is married to the former M. Elaine Grimm. They have two children.

A full breakfast will be served ($20 Members, $30 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee, and conversation. Breakfast service and registration open at 7:45 a.m.

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