The United States must keep fighting the Taliban or risk more attacks like those of September 11, 2001, because the insurgent group is a ruthless enemy that has not cut ties to al-Qaida, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul told Reuters in an interview.
Ryan Crocker also said the the U.S. must be prepared to spend billions more in the coming years to bolster Afghanistan's government and security forces. "As expensive as this (war) has been ... it has cost a lot less than 9/11 did," he said.
He described building a stable Afghanistan as "the ultimate guarantee that there will not be another 9/11."
Crocker told Reuters that although he understands Americans are weary after a decade of war, the Taliban must be defeated in order to preserve national security.
"With the Taliban will come al-Qaida, and we will have the same situation that we had pre-9/11, and that to me is an utterly unacceptable outcome," he said.
In the wide-ranging interview, Crocker also discusses his memories of 9/11, admits mistakes were made in the rebuilding process and invites "the people who are doing the finger-pointing" to "come out here and try and get it right in the smoke and dust of a hot war."