Britain’s New Afghanistan Policy

July 28, 2009

Yesterday the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband gave a speech to NATO members outlining a comprehensive British policy for further military involvement in Afghanistan. We shouldn’t forget that the main ISAF force in Afghanistan is supplied by NATO, alongside the US Operation Enduring Freedom. Back in 2001 NATO member states saw the September 11 terrorist attacks as an attack on a member state and invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty, compelling all member states to react. The result was the ongoing military involvement in Afghanistan.

In the speech, Miliband gave a broad outlook on British involvement in Afghanistan, setting both a clear goal:

‘to protect our citizens from terrorist attacks by preventing Al Qaida having a safe haven in the tribal belt – in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.’

And conceding that military measures alone will not be able to fulfil this goal, but real progress will be made through political measures:

‘strategic progress relies on undermining the insurgency through politics’

Thus Miliband sees three main political challenges which must be met by Western forces in Afghanistan:

‘First, a political strategy for dealing with the insurgency through reintegration and reconciliation…

Second, a political strategy for the wider population, through reassurance about their future…

Third, a political strategy towards the neighbours in the region – including Pakistan and Iran – to ensure that they accept that Afghanistan’s future is not as a client of any, but as a secure country in its own right.’

The British must be congratulated for communicating a comprehensive strategy towards military involvement in Afghanistan – for setting clear goals and a path forward towards achieving them.

And it is worth noting that this strategy follows the broad lines which have been recommended by many in the wider policy community, and you read about here at Comparablog.

The New Zealand government would do well to learn from the clear policy statement of the British and formulate a comprehensive strategy of their own on military involvement in Afghanistan.

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