Rice: We must "keep our nerve" in Afghanistan

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday, March 20, 2012. CBS

(CBS News) Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that in the shadow of last week's massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly murdered by a U.S. soldier, the United States must "keep our nerve" in Afghanistan.

Following the March 11 attack, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the U.S. and NATO to pull their forces from bases in rural areas, and the Taliban has used the shooting as a rallying call against the U.S., threatening to kill and behead Americans.

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Appearing Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," the former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser was asked how the U.S. might repair its relationship with Afghanistan following the shooting.

"We have to remind ourselves, and the Afghan people, what the Taliban was really like when they were ruling Afghanistan," Rice told Erica Hill. "It was a place of lawlessness. It was a place where women were executed for minor violations of the harshest notions of Islamic laws. It was a place of civil war.

"Even though Afghanistan is a very tough place, they've made some progress, they've had elections, we are helping them build security forces that I believe will be reliable in the end, and will prevent the return of the Taliban to power.

"We just have to remember what Afghanistan was like 10 years ago when it was so lawless that al Qaeda attacked the United States from that territory."

She said an Afghanistan in which the Taliban would again have a role would be a danger to to America, but most importantly a danger to the Afghan people. "I think we've achieved a lot and we need to make sure we finish the job," Rice said.

"NATO has laid out a timeline - I probably wouldn't have laid out a timeline, but we have one, for 2014," Rice told Hill. "Now let's train the Afghan security forces, let's diminish the Taliban's capability, let's help the Afghan people with governance and let's try and keep our nerve and keep moving forward because we cannot afford to leave Afghanistan to the Taliban and the terrorists."

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