US State Secretary Antony Blinken said the US failed in nation-building in Afghanistan, and that Washington must learn lessons from this failure.
Speaking at the 2022 Fran Eizenstat and Eizenstat Family Lecture Series on Monday, he said the US tried nation-building in Afghanistan, but it did not work out. “And I think one of the lessons is that we have to be very, very, very thoughtful about these nation-building exercises, because we obviously didn’t succeed,” he said.
He said the billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan did not end up in building a government and security forces that could sustain themselves.
The US’s longest war ended on August last year as the last batch of US soldiers left Kabul airport. The withdrawal and the chaotic evacuation brought Joe Biden's administration under severe criticism.
Blinken said if the US had stayed beyond the deadline, and military offensives against the US and coalition forces would have resumed and the US would have needed to send more troops in.
He also said the US remains committed in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. “We remain very focused on the Afghan people, and they are facing a humanitarian catastrophe. We’ve been working very hard to make sure that that assistance can get to where it’s needed,” he said.
Blinken’s remarks come amid as a delegation of the Islamic Emirate is in Oslo to meet with a number of Afghans and officials from different countries, including the US and the European Union.
Humanitarian assistance and human rights have been the key topics of the talks.
Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi talking to reporters in Oslo on Monday said they had good talks with Afghan rights activists and politicians. “We released a joint statement and the main point was that all Afghans should work together, serve their nation, and Afghanistan is all Afghans' home,” he said.
Women's rights activist Mahbouba Seraj, who is also in Oslo for talks with the Islamic Emirate officials, said the discussions were good. "Yes, they were listening. I should say that. They really were listening. We gave them a paper. We asked them what we wanted. They took it. They were very, very cordial about it,” she said.