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Over the past ten years since 9/11, event after event in and outside Afghanistan has overshadowed the need to connect with the Afghan people and to deliver on their basic expectations for peace, justice, and prosperity. Even though NATO member-states increasingly appreciate the importance of public diplomacy at home and abroad, they have largely faltered to engage and listen to the Afghan people on how to secure Afghanistan.
I had heard many good things about Wilton Park's conferences, and was finally able to participate in one entitled "Public Diplomacy: Meeting New Challenges" on October 7, 2008. The conference consisted of several sessions, including one on Afghanistan that generated much discussion by a number of publicly renowned diplomacy experts and practitioners from some of the countries with forces in Afghanistan.
This blog post first appeared in the International Herald Tribune.
Roger Cohen, in his column "Afghanistan at the tipping point" (Globalist, Nov. 1), clarifies a major point: "Afghanistan is not Iraq."
It's true: No peace operation is winnable without popular support. We have the Afghan public behind us, but we can lose that if we do not deliver peace.
This article originally appeared on Diplomatic Traffic.
The largest defeat of British-Indian forces in the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880) came through the leadership of a heroic Afghan woman: Malalai of Maiwand. Malalai courageously inspired dejected Afghan troops and carried the Afghan banner into the battle that would end her life.
After decades of violence, the opium poppy crop remains one of the few stable income sources for poor Afghan farmers, who cannot be effectively persuaded to end poppy cultivation without being granted alternative ways of making a living. In 2005, most farmers complied with the poppy ban set out by the Afghan government with the understanding that legal alternative means of survival would be provided. But when the promised aid failed to materialize, drug production quickly rose again.
From an online discussion at Development Gateway, Jul 2, 2007:
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.
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