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Inside Story Americas

Can Afghanistan make it on its own?

As Barack Obama seeks to hasten withdrawal of troops after a decade-long war, we discuss the future of US-Afghan ties.
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2013 10:48

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and his US counterpart Barack Obama have agreed to speed up the withdrawal of US combat troops as well as trade security responsibility from NATO to Afghan forces this spring.

"There was never an intent for the Afghans to operate as a military without some support from NATO forces - they don't have intelligence, air support and lack some logistics. I'm hoping that the President leaves [behind] some of those forces to truly help this be a comprehensive organisation."

-Jack Keane, former US vice chief of staff

After a long and deadly war, Obama announced plans to move US combat troops into an advisory role - slightly ahead of schedule - and also said any agreement on troop withdrawals must include an immunity agreement in which US soldiers are not subjected to Afghan law.

The president said the path of the US military remains clear and the war is moving toward a "responsible end" in 2014.

But the exact date, as well as how many troops are to remain, is still unclear.

So, is Afghanistan ready to protect itself as the US steps back?

To discuss what the future relationship between the two countries could look like, Inside Story Americas with presenter Kimberly Halkett speaks to Jack Keane, a retired four-star general and former vice chief of staff with the US military; and Shuja Nawaz, the director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council.


Meanwhile, in the world of sports: Major League Baseball and its players have agreed to expand testing for performance-enhancing drugs.

"One of the things that's so disturbing about  some of the recent high-handedness about performance-enhancing drugs is that the same writers who voted to keep these players out of the Hall of Fame were the same writers who really turned a blind eye in the 1990s when the turnstiles were moving and the power of the game were unparalleled..."

- Dave Zirin, The Nation magazine

For the first time, blood testing for human growth hormone (HGH), which was previously only done pre-season, will now be conducted during the long baseball season. Testing for testosterone will also be enhanced.

The move was announced just a day after baseball writers failed to endorse any former players for the prestigious Hall of Fame, because of their past association with steroids - a testament of disappointment for a sport that has endured years of controversy with performance-enhancing drugs.

Among those denied entry were Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest hitter and pitcher of their generation.

So now that baseball has the toughest drug testing of any of the professional sports leagues in North America, we ask what took them so long to crack down? And will others, like football, soon follow suit?

To discuss drugs, baseball and other US sports, we are joined by guests: Dave Zirin, a sports writer for The Nation magazine and Rob Neyer, the national baseball editor for SB Nation.

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