The fact is that Iran doesn't want to see the Taliban come back any more than do most Afghan citizens.
Central to achieving progress in Afghanistan - and to setting the conditions necessary to transition security tasks from the international community to the Afghan government - is increasing the size and capability of ANSF.
In all of our efforts, we continue to emphasize the importance of inclusivity and transparency on the part of the Afghan government and leadership, especially in linking nascent local governing institutions to the decision-making and financial resources in Kabul.
Needless to say, innumerable challenges exist in all areas of governance, and much more needs to be done to help the Afghan government assume full responsibility for addressing the concerns of ordinary Afghan citizens.
The Afghan people do not take kindly to conquerors.
We're here so that Afghanistan does not once again become a sanctuary for transnational extremists the way it was when al-Qaeda planned the 9/11 attacks in the Kandahar area, conducted the initial training for the attackers in training camps in Afghanistan before they moved on to Germany and then to U.S. flight schools.
This is actually true of the overall fight against al-Qaeda and trans-national extremists, that as you put pressure on them in one location, they'll seek safe haven sanctuaries in other areas. So you do have to continue to pursue them. But they have less capability.
Setting aside moral considerations, those who flirt with hate speech against Muslims should realize they are playing directly into the hands of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The terrorists' explicit hope has been to try to provoke a clash of civilizations - telling Muslims that the United States is at war with them and their religion.
During the surge in Iraq, we were able to roll back the tide of al-Qaeda and associated insurgents because we succeeded in mobilizing Iraqis - especially Sunni Arabs - to join us in fighting against the largely Sunni extremist networks in their midst.
You have to keep on disrupting. If you let up the pressure, then al-Qaeda senior leadership will come back.
In many respects, Afghanistan represents a more difficult problem set. It does not have a number of the blessings that Iraq has in terms of the oil, gas, land of two rivers, the human capital that Iraq built up over the years, the muscle memory of a strong government - albeit one that was corrupted over time.
In many... cases, of course, the Arab Spring has brought about instability rather than greater stability. And rather than bringing about government that is more representative and more responsive to the people, you're seeing, frankly, the opposite, or you're seeing all-out war.
I considered our British comrades to rank with the finest men and women of any armed service in the world. And I know that my fellow American soldiers - and those of the other coalition countries under my command - valued very highly the professional expertise, capability, courage, and determination of our British partners on the battlefield.
We're all outriders out there, and what we have is all these large number of tasks - that's the herd; that's all the cattle - a whole bunch of individual, hundreds if not thousands of projects at any given time ongoing that we're trying to complete. So we're trying to keep the cattle herd, keep it all just going in the right direction.
I've truly tried to be apolitical.
The situation in Iraq was dire at the end of 2006, when President George W. Bush decided to implement the surge and selected me to command it. Indeed, when I returned to Baghdad in early February 2007, I found the conditions there to be even worse than I had expected.
Iran has had a very harmful effect in a variety of ways in the region... fomenting unrest to a degree in Saudi Arabia, undoubtedly in Bahrain, and definitely in Yemen with Hamas, with Lebanese Hezbollah among other activities in locations.
The Germans have done wonderful work. Not long ago, a German battle group battalion conducted a very impressive counterinsurgency operation in a portion of Baghlan province. I think these are the first counterinsurgency operations conducted by any German element after World War II. And they did a very impressive job.
We all have to strive to learn what motivates us, learn from our experiences, and what feels right and what feels wrong. There's a strong component over the years to having formal processes that help to identify lessons that need to be learned, and actions that need to be taken. In other words, how do you find the big idea?
The biggest of the big ideas that guided the strategy during the surge was explicit recognition that the most important terrain in the campaign in Iraq was the human terrain - the people - and our most important mission was to improve their security.