OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Tom Gouttierre is the retired Dean of International Studies and Programs and the retired Director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
He first arrived in Afghanistan in 1965 as a Peace Corps volunteer. He taught high school and eventually coached the country’s national basketball team.
Among his students was President Ashfar Ghani, who left the country this weekend as Taliban forces closed in on Kabul's capital. Gouttierre expressed grave concern for his friends and former students who are still in the country, including numerous female teachers who studied at UNO.
In a wide-ranging interview, Gouttierre told 3 New News that he was disappointed in the way the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was handled and that he believes the United States should have maintained a small military presence in the country. South Korea, he explained, still has U.S. Military bases 70 years after that conflict.
The retired dean was critical of multiple administrations, Democrats and Republicans, and the way they handled Afghanistan policy. He said that American political leadership did not understand how to manage our efforts there.
“It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for our interests in that part of the world. Think now what our allies think of us in terms of reliance, commitment,” Gouttierre said. “Think now of what our enemies think about us.”
Attached to this article, you can watch our in-depth interview with Gouttierre in which he discusses the history of Afghanistan, U.S. Afghanistan policy, and his love for the country.