This commentary was originally published by EurasiaNet on May 23, 2007
Canadians are growing increasingly jittery about their country’s military participation in Afghanistan. A majority of Canadians now wonder if the political cost of maintaining troops in Afghanistan is too high. They should realize that the cost of not being there would be even higher.
This interview with First Secretary M. Ashraf Haidari was originally published in International Affairs Journal, Vol. 3 No. 1, University of California at Davis.
Now is the time to finish the job we began in Afghanistan five years ago. Last year saw a desperate and vicious onslaught by a new generation of Taliban forces with enhanced logistical and financial support. More than 4,000 Afghans, many of them civilians, were killed in military actions in 2006, a three-fold increase from the previous year. Suicide attacks -- a phenomenon unknown to Afghans before 2002 -- jumped to 118 from 21.
Do we Afghans ever think about our debt of service to Afghanistan and actually doing something about it? I think we hardly do so. But let us begin with the basic fact that the land we call home is diversely populated, geographically landlocked, politically and economically least developed, and unfortunately located in a predatory neighborhood where at least one of our neighbors sees its raison d'être partly dependent on instability in Afghanistan.
Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations who died at age 80 December 8, will likely be recalled as the great master of public diplomacy shock and awe during the Ronald Reagan presidency. She was arguably the most effective champion of President Reagan's foreign policy objectives, who rivaled the president himself when it came to working the media.