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Is it Kabul or Baghdad? Sometimes it’s hard to say.

Smoke and flames rise from fuel trucks after an overnight attack by the Taliban on the outskirts of Kabul on July 5. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)

Sometimes it’s hard to keep these foreign capitals straight, as former ambassador to Tanzania Alfonso Lenhardt showed at his  Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last month on his nomination to be deputy administrator of the Agency for International Development (AID).

Lenhardt, former Senate sergeant at arms  and before that retired after more than 30 years in the U.S. Army with the rank of major general,  was asked by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)  to “talk a little bit about AID’s plan in Afghanistan as we now move to the cessation of combat operations there.”

AID would continue “to support Afghanistan,” Lenhardt said, “but will do so consistent with the [troop] drawdown. Right now, in particular though,” he went on, “Baghdad seems to be the focus. But in other parts of the country . . .  USAID continues normal operations.”

“But Baghdad is an issue,” he said, and AID will “watch it carefully in terms” of security.

“The bottom line is USAID continues to provide support to Afghanistan,” Lenhardt said, and will do so “until such time as circumstances determine that it is not — no longer safe, feasible to do that. But until that happens, we’re there.”

Ditto for Kabul?

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.



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