Thursday, March 12, 2009

Afghan ambassadors speak out

I must say I have considerable sympathy with what they're saying:

1) Omar Samad, ambassador to Canada:
Afghan envoy pleads with West to stay the course

As he warned the West against giving up on his country "halfway," Afghanistan's envoy to Canada said Friday [March 6] he disagreed with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's suggestion the Taliban insurgency cannot be defeated.

"We firmly believe that this insurgency can be defeated," Ambassador Omar Samad told Canwest News Service. "We have to do it together at this point. At a certain point, when the Afghan military is strong enough, we will have to shoulder the responsibility." [Note: the ambassador is saying that the eventual "defeat" of the Taliban--which means ensuring they are in no position to seize power again--will in the end have to be done by the Afghans, not foreign troops. That essentially is what the prime minister said (and said just under a year ago too); the problem is his emphasis.]

Mr. Samad's disagreement with Mr. Harper arose as the prime minister repeated his view Friday that western military forces should not be expected to defeat the Taliban, and that it is important to "define what victory means."..

Earlier this week, Mr. Harper told a CNN interviewer that the Taliban insurgency could not be defeated and that, "my reading of Afghanistan's history is that they've probably had an insurgency forever, of some kind."

But that is not Mr. Samad's reading of his country's history.

"Afghanistan is a country that has not faced insurgencies all of its life. My father's and grandfather's generations lived in a peaceful Afghanistan. So we need to put that in perspective," said Mr. Samad, whose family fled Afghanistan after the 1979 invasion by the Soviet Union.

Mr. Samad echoed the concerns of some in his government that the rhetoric coming from some foreign leaders is an indication that the West "has given up on helping us build a functioning democracy, which incorporates human rights, gender rights, civil society and instead may decide to only achieve its immediate goal of neutralizing al-Qaeda."..
2) Said T. Jawad, ambassador to the US:
Afghan Envoy Assails Western Allies as Halfhearted, Defeatist

Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States attacked Western governments fighting in and providing billions in aid to his country, saying that those who claim the international community is not winning the war against extremists there "should know that they never fully tried."

"We never asked to be the 51st state," Ambassador Said T. Jawad said, a reference to a suggestion last month by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) that the United States should concentrate on "realistic goals" and its "original mission" of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.

"To suggest that Afghans do not deserve peace, pluralism and human rights is wrong and racist," Jawad said.

He said negotiations with the Taliban should be conducted by the Afghan government and should be withheld until it was in a "position of strength." President Obama, in a New York Times interview last week, echoed numerous administration and U.S. military officials in suggesting that the United States seek negotiations with "reconcilable" Taliban elements.

Obama also said the United States and NATO were not winning the war in Afghanistan and spoke favorably of U.S. military plans to bolster Afghan tribal forces to participate in the war against extremists -- a policy seen as successful in Iraq and being tried in pilot programs in Afghanistan. Jawad said yesterday that such plans "will not work" and would undermine the country's stability...

Jawad accused those aiding Afghanistan of "total negligence" in building the Afghan police force and judicial system, "under-investment" in the national army, and providing "meager resources" devoted to helping the Afghan government deliver services and protect its citizens...
Update: Via Terry Glavin--worth the read, esp. about Pakistan:
Afghanistan and Pakistan: Understanding a Complex Threat Environment


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