BOISE — Tuesday evening, the former United States Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker a native of Spokane, was in Boise as the keynote speaker for the annual Frank Church Conference.
The conference took place at Boise State University and was free for the public to attend.
Crocker helped provide a partnership between the United States and Afghanistan during his one-year term as Ambassador. He also served as an Ambassador overseas for six years in six different Middle Eastern countries.
His message to those present at BSU was not to give up on helping Afghanistan establish a secure country.
“The progress, I think has been underestimated,” said Crocker.
Crocker believes the Afghanistan is the "forgotten war" and he believes we cannot forget why we embarked on a partnership with the country. He believes many have forgotten what we originally went over there to accomplish.
“The people who brought us that horrific attack have been weakened, but they are still there,” he said. “If we leave before the Afghans are ready to assume responsibility for their own security, it’s our security that is going to be at risk.”
Crocker said that country still needs international support, especially from the United States, and he said Afghan women are now stronger than ever -- one of the biggest selling points for having troops overseas, there.
“We have helped build a new generation of Afghans," Crocker said. "Women ... who the first time really have power and influence, they are 27 percent of the Afghan parliament, a lot better ratio than we have in congress here.”
“They are in business they are in education they are in the universities. They have stepped forward because we have encouraged them to step forward,” he said.
In addition, the younger Afghan generation admires American values and freedom, in Crocker’s experience; they are paying attention to the change happening in their country.
“The single most important game changer in Afghanistan are people just like them, the twenty-something's who think, talk, act and dress like them.” he said. “I am not sure I have seen any bronco T-shirts in the streets of Kabul, but there are probably some out there,” Crocker joked.
Crocker also said there is crucial national security interest in the future of Afghanistan.
He is hoping the next presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney will better address foreign affairs.