US should learn lessons from past: Ryan Crocker

Ryan Crocker speaks Arabic and has spent a lifetime immersed in the Arab world and Afghanistan.

Kabul: Outgoing US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker has said American policy makers need to learn the lessons of the recent past as they weigh military options for the future, including for Syria and Iran.

"You better do some cold calculating, you know, about how do you really think you are going to influence things for the better," the New York Times quoted Crocker, as saying.

Crocker, one of the pre-eminent American diplomats of the past 40 years, said he could not help keeping his mind at work on the crisis spots that have defined his career- in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iran and Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Crocker will retire at the end of July after a career that began as the last American troops were leaving Vietnam and is ending as the curtain closes on an era of American state-building that has mostly fallen short of the results policy makers had hoped for, the paper said.

In the years ahead, Crocker sees, if anything, an increasingly fraught foreign landscape in a world set afire by war and revolution, a chapter bound to frustrate the best intentions and most sophisticated strategies of the US, the paper said.

Although he speaks Arabic and has spent a lifetime immersed in the Arab world and Afghanistan, Crocker is deeply sceptical that Americans on foreign soil can be anything other than strangers in a strange land.

"We are a superpower, we don’t fight on our territory, but that means you are in somebody else’s stadium, playing by somebody else’s ground rules, and you have to understand the environment, the history, the politics of the country you wish to intervene in," he said.


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