PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The former Ambassador to Iraq on Thursday said after 20 years of war, it’s time to reflect on America’s future in foreign interventions.
Robert Ford, the former Ambassador to Iraq, and Ronald Neumann, the former Ambassador to Afghanistan, were in Peoria for the Peoria Area World Affairs Council 50th Anniversary Gala at Bradley University.
“I think it’s a good time to reflect on how engaged do we want the United States to be in places that are unstable, like Afghanistan and like the Middle East, and to take a second look at what our interests are. Resources are scarce, and we can’t do everything. So it’s time to do a better job of figuring out what’s really worth our time and attention,” said Ford.
Ford said Americans need to figure out whether they want to focus attention at home or continue to fix problems overseas.
“It’s a time to sit back and think what our priorities [are], and if they’re not foreign priorities, then accept that you’re going to have to live with those problems over there,” he said.
Neumann said the notion that Afghans wouldn’t fight is a “cheap excuse for our bailing out.”
“If you have a shattered country, then you don’t have anybody to hand power off to,” he said. “We left behind thousands of people who worked for us. We said we would get them out, but at the end of the day, we decided we didn’t have enough time so ‘tough’ – we abandoned a lot of people,” he said.
Neumann said there were numerous turning points in the war under four U.S. presidents. He said the repeated changes in policy were problematic, and the mission became too militarized.
“We’ve had a disastrous defeat in Afghanistan and I think we need some reflection on what are the larger lessons and how do you think about these things and get out of the partisan name-calling mode,” he said.