Saturday, October 24, 2009

The only way forward in Afghanistan is internationalisation

The only way forward in Afghanistan is internationalisation. 24 Oct 2009

We hear all the time what America must do, what NATO must do. But, after the criminal folly of the Bush/Blair catastrophic (for Western interests) invasion of Iraq, America is in terminal decline as remaining superpower - it is now first amongst equals. And equals do not include Europe, the main part of NATO apart from the US. That's because Europe does not have a single voice in the world. And NATO is seen by the great powers as, like the US, an ailing entity. Worse - the Europeans see Afghanistan as where the US is trying to get them to pull American chestnuts out of the fire lit by Bush & Blair in Iraq (which deprived America and NATO of success in Afghanistan). Ask the chancelleries of the world if this is not privately their reading! 

But the great powers (and all the Security Council veto-bearers) have a major common interest in the stabilisation of Iraq. So do all of Afghanistan's neighbours - the ex-soviets, Iran, Pakistan, and China. This is shared by many other countries notably India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and all the other Arab and Muslim countries.

This makes a formidable force if directed on that sole issue of Afghanistan stabilisation. Many of these countries have unique abilities to put pressure on the various parties from Taliban, warlords and others. Many, like the Saudis, have financial and other resources which they could bring to bear. 

No, the stabilisation of Afghanistan is not impossible if approached as a major national interest of so many countries. 

But America must first show clearly (if tacitly) that it has abandoned as unfeasable (after the disaster of the Iraq war) the G W Bush/Cheney/neo-conservative aim for a unipolar world, that is for US worldwide hegemony sought by the Project for a New American Century. 

Determined but sensitive diplomacy such as the US now possesses could restore at least in so far as Afghanistan concerned, that astonishing international support that G W Bush threw away by invading Iraq. It would take a good year to determine what each power could provide and to organise their co-ordinated actions. 

Meanwhile the US would have to hold the fort in Afghanistan. Of course, once this internationalisation was known to be the US objective, it would be much easier to gather the various elements of pressure to be exerted on the parties. 

Such joint efforts involving countries that are no friends of each other are possible. Study the situations in Europe after the Wars of Religion and after the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. In the latter case France, the defeated former superpower, by good diplomacy recovered much ground (only to throw it away again!). The US, as first among equals could achieve Afghanistan stabilisation although it cannot win - after the Bush era neglect and the present perception by Al Qaeda and Taliban and many others - that America is the losing once-was-superpower.

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