USF Symposium Offers New Insights on Pakistan/Afghanistan Policy

03/24/10 Kate Bradshaw
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

It’s a big week for dialogue between US and two countries that have borne the brunt of the “War on Terror.” Today Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it’s too early to let Afghanistan fend for itself against the Taliban. This comes as a large delegation of Pakistani leaders is meeting with the Obama Administration. Meanwhile, peace talks have begun in that country between a Taliban leader and Afghan President Hahmad Karzai. Closer to home, the University of South Florida held the first day of its Symposium on Afghanistan and Pakistan, where diplomats and scholars, like Naval Postgraduate School professor Thomas Johnson, shared their views on the region.

Thomas said the country’s tribal nature is not conducive to a centralized, Western style government.

Among the suggestions Thomas has for US forces is to better understand the makeup of the Taliban.

Another is to engage in Afghan communities.

The symposium aims to explore the cultural, political, and logistical challenges the West faces in those countries. Kevin McGurgan is British Consul-General in Miami. The long-time diplomat was Deputy Head of a NATO Reconstruction Team in Southern Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009. He said that ending the insurgency in Afghanistan will take more than military aggression.

He said a successful strategy could take generations to implement.

Tune in for WMNF’s continued coverage of the USF conference throughout the week, including Friday’s talk by General David Petreaus.

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