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NATO Chief on Afghan Legacy: ‘Have To Ask Some Difficult Questions’

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23.09.2021

What happens to the country and its people after the forever war ends?

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said one of the main lessons the NATO alliance should take away from its two-decade-long mission in Afghanistan is it needs to be “ready to use military force again if we are attacked, to fight international terrorism,” even as he conceded the alliance needed to address “difficult questions” about the trajectory of the war.

In an interview with Foreign Policy during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly, Stoltenberg addressed the recent dispute between the United States, United Kingdom, and France over an Australian submarine deal, saying the United States shouldn’t have to choose between building ties with its allies in the Pacific or the Atlantic, though he stopped short of taking sides on the diplomatic rift.

He also addressed one of Russia’s largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War on its western border with NATO, the Zapad 2021 exercise centered around Belarus—with an eye on Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said one of the main lessons the NATO alliance should take away from its two-decade-long mission in Afghanistan is it needs to be “ready to use military force again if we are attacked, to fight international terrorism,” even as he conceded the alliance needed to address “difficult questions” about the trajectory of the war.

In an interview with Foreign Policy during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly, Stoltenberg addressed the recent dispute between the United States, United Kingdom, and France over an Australian submarine deal, saying the United States shouldn’t have to choose between building ties with its allies in the Pacific or the Atlantic, though he stopped short of taking sides on the diplomatic rift.

He also addressed one of Russia’s largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War on its western border with NATO, the Zapad 2021 exercise centered around Belarus—with an eye on Ukraine.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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