The Ministers and Afghanistan
Reuters has published an interesting sampling of quotations from the various ministers in attendance at the conference on Afghanistan at The Hague. It reminds me of nothing so much as the old story (and poem) about the Blind Men and the Elephant. I’m not saying this to mock those in attendance at the conference but merely to observe that their reactions are very much conditioned by their own experiences and circumstances and the objectives of their own countries.
So, for example, the Dutch foreign minister noted:
“What we need is a new Afghan bond, a bond that unites those Afghan citizens and the government, which unites Afghans and their neighbours.”
or Afghanistan should be a lot more like The Netherlands and southern Asia should be a lot more like Europe. That makes significantly more sense in The Netherlands, a country the size of the state of New Jersey with a long national history, than it does in Afghanistan, a country the size of Texas composed of competing ethnicities with next to no national identity.
Or the observation of the Iranian deputy foreign minister:
“The presence of foreign forces has not improved things in the country and it seems that an increase in the number of foreign forces will prove ineffective too.”
which may well be true but, unfortunately, the converse isn’t true: we have no reason whatever to believe that the absence of foreign forces in Afghanistan would be better for the country. It might well be in the best interests of Iran, however.
Many of the quotes in the brief article laud Iran’s presence at the conference.
Read the whole thing. It’s short and interesting.