Washington: US President Barack Obama believes that Afghanistan has been a harder terrain than Iraq for US troops and policymakers, but argues that a pull-out from the war-torn country will not make the world any better.
Obama, who inherited the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan said Afghanistan has been "very hard stuff" but insisted that the US has not yet failed in that country, if not succeeded.
"I knew it was hard a year ago, and I suspect a year from now, I will conclude that it`s still hard, and it`s messy. Number two, when you tick off these metrics that have quote-unquote `failed` -- well, they haven`t failed yet. They haven`t succeeded yet," he said.
He said the US troops had succeeded in creating a line of security around Kandahar, but "there`s no doubt that Kandahar is not yet a secure place any more than Mosul or Fallujah were secure in certain phases of the Iraq War".
In an interview to the Rolling Stone magazine, Obama said success has been seen in recruiting and training Afghan security forces, though the overall objective of making the country completely secure was still distant.
"I will also agree that Afghanistan is harder than Iraq. This is the second-poorest country in the world. You`ve got no tradition of a civil service or bureaucracy that is effective countrywide," he said.
Arguing that the allies have been very successful in taking out the middle ranks of the Taliban, he said, however, pulling out was not a viable option at present.
"I don`t know anybody who has examined the region who thinks that if we completely pulled out of Afghanistan, the Karzai regime collapsed, Kabul was overrun once again by the Taliban, and Sharia law was imposed throughout the country, that we would be safer, or the Afghan people would be better off, or Pakistan would be better off, or India would be better off, or that we would see a reduction in potential terrorist attacks around the world. You can`t make that argument," he said.
Obama said his administration had examined every option including having a smaller footprint in Afghanistan, and would chose the option that is best for the country.
"With all the problems we`ve got here at home, and the fact that I have to sign letters to the family members of every soldier who is killed in Afghanistan, if I can find a way of reducing the costs to the American taxpayer, and more profoundly, to our young men and women in uniform, while making sure that we are not rendered much more vulnerable to a terrorist attack in the future, that`s going to be the option that I choose," he said.
But, he admitted that achieving the final objective in Afghanistan would take several years.