U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker presented his diplomatic credentials to Afghan President Hamid Karzai at a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 24, 2011. Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Crocker served as Dean, Executive Professor, and Edward and Howard Kruse Endowed Chair at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. He retired from the Foreign Service in April 2009 after a career of over 37 years. Ryan Crocker served as Ambassador to Iraq (2007-2009) and Ambassador to Pakistan (2004-2007). He has also served as the International Affairs Advisor at the National War College, where he joined the faculty in 2003.
Ambassador Crocker delivered remarks at a swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ambassador Crocker said, "I wanted to take this oath here to stand before my Embassy colleagues, both American and Afghan, who constitute the U.S. civilian presence and surge, and tell all of you how proud I am of you, your courage, your dedication, and your commitment. Today means a great deal to me personally. Almost ten years ago, Ambassador Pearce and I traveled to New York on U.N. business. We arrived on the morning of 9/11, just as the towers were hit, and we watched the collapse from the Queensboro Bridge. That is why I asked Ambassador Pearce to hold the Constitution this morning."
He continued, "...We are at a time of transition in Afghanistan. It is a time for us to step back and for the Afghans to step forward, as they are doing. There can be no more clearer evidence than in last week's successful security transition. This is an indicator of the progress that Afghanistan has achieved in recent years. However, I think all of us -- Americans, coalition partners, the international community, and the Afghan leadership -- know that we must proceed carefully. There will be no rush for the exits. The way we do this in the months ahead will have consequences far beyond Afghanistan and far into the future. Frankly, we left the wrong way in the early 1990's, and we all know the history of those decisions: the civil war, the rise of the Taliban, sanctuary for Al Qaida, and 9/11. So how we proceed as partners in support of Afghanistan is critical. We have to think this through carefully, we have to consult with the Afghan government, and the coming year will be critical in setting the right glide path.
"Those of us in the international community face challenges at home as well. Our people are tired of military involvements, and the expense of blood and treasure. But my answer to that, again, is to remind those who say we should be done of the incalculable long-term effects and costs of getting it wrong. We owe nothing less to the next generation of Afghans, Americans, and others not to repeat the mistakes of 20 years ago."
In closing, Ambassador Crocker said, "...Let me make one other point clear: we have no interest in permanent bases in Afghanistan. The President has said it, the Secretaries of State and Defense have said it, and I repeat it here. We will stay as long as we need to and not one day more. We have no interest in using Afghanistan as a platform to protect influence into neighboring countries. Our sole interest is in Afghanistan's security and sustainable stability, and ensuring that it will never again become a haven for international terrorism that poses a threat to the international community. So we call on all of Afghanistan's neighbors and the international community to become fully invested in that quest for stability and prosperity. We have important conferences in front of us: Istanbul in November and Bonn in December that I hope will chart a course well beyond 2014. And beyond 2014, even when Afghans have transitioned to a full security lead, I am confident that we, the international community, will be in a position to work with Afghanistan to prevent any forcible return of the Taliban to power. Those days are gone.
"And finally, ladies and gentlemen, we are all in this together: Afghans, Americans, allies, the international community. We all have a great deal at stake and we all have an obligation to make this work. And I am hugely proud to be here in Kabul this morning to lead the Embassy effort and to be part of the broader international effort."
You can read Ambassador Crocker's complete remarks here.