afghanistanIn January, Debating Europe asked whether you thought the EU was doing enough to support Pakistan in its continuing struggle against violent militancy in that country. This week, Debating Europe, along with our partner think-tanks Security & Defence Agenda and Friends of Europe, held an event looking at what can be done to encourage a peaceful transition to a post-conflict society in Pakistan’s troubled neighbour, Afghanistan. With Western forces due to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014, and with next month’s important NATO summit meeting on security in Chicago, followed by the International Conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo in July, the issue of European policy towards Afghanistan is high on the agenda.

During the Pakistan debate, we had a comment sent in from Christos arguing: “Education is a much better weapon to use than military strength… If we continue to pursue violence and support military action against the Taliban activities, then I am afraid that we just make some people martyrs… It only empowers their determination as they see that the ‘West’ is helping or supporting military activities on their soil.” We took this comment to Paul Smith, British Council Country Director in Afghanistan, to see how he would respond. Have Western powers struck the right balance in Afghanistan, or has the emphasis been too strongly on security and beating the Taliban militarily?

Next up was a comment from Nikolai, arguing that: “Pakistan may well be a case where the EU should engage as something other than the EU. It may well be an occasion where bi-lateral national engagement will produce the best results given the recognised EU support for many US objectives and methods so unpopular in Pakistan.” Whilst Nikolai was originally talking about the situation in Pakistan, does the same also apply in Afghanistan?

Finally, what will happen when troops leave in 2014? Are we going to see continuing support for Afghanistan, or will any progress that has been made (particularly in terms of things like rights for women) be lost?

We also spoke to Nasrine Gross, founder of the Roqia Center for Women’s Rights, Studies and Education in Afghanistan. First, we asked her to respond to Christos’s point on the balance between education, development and security.

Next, we asked her to respond to Nikolai’s comment on the perception of Western powers in the region. Again, though Nikolai was originally talking about Pakistan, would it help in Afghanistan if development were seen to come more from ‘neutral’ countries like Sweden or Germany?

Finally, we also asked her what her predictions were for post-2014. What will happen when Western forces leave Afghanistan?

What do YOU think? Is the EU failing to support Afghanistan? Is the country ready for the pull-out of Western forces in 2014? Has the right balance been struck between combatting the Taliban militarily and investing in education and development in the country? And is the EU ‘tainted’ by association with the US, or is it a myth to suppose that ordinary Afghanis resent American forces. Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – codepinkhq

21 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Karel Van Isacker

    We should never have gotten ourselves embroiled in this anway, since it has nothing to do whatsoever with struggle against violent militancy. Let the Afghans to the Afghans. Who are we to judge whether the Sharia is bad or not for them? As long as they do not export it to Europe, all fine with me. They want to wear a boerka, let them wear one, over there that is. They want to be ruled by the Taliban? Let them have it. But bring home the military since they are being slaughtered for nothing. Afghan people do not want the military there. So why even spend European blood, sweat, tears and money on them? If the EU wants to provide support, it should negotiate with the legitimate powers in setting up local projects. And if the Afghans even dare touch one of the EU staff there, pull out and let them sort out their mess. Stop the money stream to the corrupt Karza government. His entourage is involved in drug trade anyway. Finally, as long as Pakistan is supporting actively the Taliban, there is no way this unjust war will ever be won. There are only losers at this point, from both sides. Just like in Iraq, Libya, etc. wherever the EU thought they had to intervene and meddle in internal issues/conflicts. What has been the outcome? ZERO.

  2. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    In fact, what the bloody hell is the EU playing at? Have they, by stealth, conscripted all Europeans back to the future with this gunboat imperialistic evil? Conscripted us all as servants to the lunacy that is US foreign policy? As it stands, in my opinion, many citizens are questioning support for this large undemocratic bureaucratic body, known as the EU based on what they/we perceive is their (EU) interference in our national countries on civil matters. Little do they (Europeans) know the real extent of what the EU is up to, with it’s out of control, out of European control that is, of its EEAS. Abolish the EEAS now, before it is too late. If the EU wish to set up an EU defence force, do it up front, create one that is compatible with most European values, that is agreed to by all nations citizens, that being defence and not offence and get the bloody hell out of NATO and NATO out of Europe….pj

  3. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    Of course the EU failed and is failing to support Afghanistan, it bloody well, along with others, supported invading it and now occupy it. You cannot get more Orwellian than that. Unbelievable! Supporting a nation is now invading them, killing them, stealing from them, occupying them, choosing their culture for them, choosing who their leaders should be and that list is endless….pj

    • avatar

      Joushua, what I’m saying is that it IS WRONG, becasue it has absurd results. Not simply with respect to Iraq, A’stan, etc., but in the major point that quite a few of the high ranking countries can’t seriously provide for their security.

  4. avatar
    Dustin Wittmann

    Why should the EU worry about Afghanistan. Those people will never stabilize. Nor will they ever do anything for the EU. I say leave now. Why help a people that won’t even help themselves. Also, screw Karzai.

  5. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Europe created the mess, now we will have to deal with it for decades to come, if not forever.. just like Palestine and Israel.. whenever the west meddled in one region, they created a fine mess.. they helped establish a corrupt elite to make sure the country or region remained under European/American control and influence, but this elite became addicted to money that was coming from the west and so the country never progressed.. and we kept pouring money into the country… Israel and Palestine is one example, Kosovo and most of the former Yugoslav republics are another, Africa is perhaps the most tragic, my home country Greece is another one, Iraq and Afghanistan will be bleeding money out of the western countries for decades to come.. no matter if you be able to pull out by 2014 or not, the elite you want to establish over there will keep asking for support, aka funds to deal with the never-ending threat of the Talibans.. so it makes no difference really.. best way to deal with issues like this..?? never get involved in another country’s affairs in order to serve your interests and change the status quo… if you do, then you will have to be prepared to pay for it… now pay for it Europe..!! you wanted to follow uncle Sam into this war… you never learn!!! please what are the benefits for me, an ordinary European to have one million Iraqis killed and God knows how many Afghans, never mind the more than 3000 American troops and hundreds of European troops that have been killed for “my benefit”? I would really like to know…

  6. avatar
    Eusebio Manuel Vestias Pecurto

    Eu já comentei varias vezes na Care2 sobre o Afeganistão o que vai acontecer quando as tropas sairem em 2014 os direitos das mulheres a educação a segurança das pessoas que querem a paz

  7. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    With all due respect to those who put this piece together, I would not have even considered transposing my comments on Pakistan in relation to Afghanistan. Both nations have very different situations and my comments relating to Pakistan I would not view to be a possible way forward or appropriate for Afghanistan.

    I also question the title of this piece as it headlines as though Afghanistan will be simply left to its own devises from 2014 which is quite obviously not going to be the case.

    Only last week Ukraine publicly declared its continued presence in Afghanistan from 2014 albeit a move from militarily, to expertise and education in drug trafficking prevention.

    The rumours amongst the diplomatic circles are that it is prepared to continue that until 2024 if necessary.

    If Ukraine is going to do that given its small presence in Afghanistan over the past years, then the other nations currently in Afghanistan are equally as likely to have thousands of “specialists” and “experts” remain/or be sent also. These people will all need protection and therefore the “private security services” will no doubt have thousands of people there as well.

    The nature of the presence of the international community in Afghanistan may change (or that which doesn’t change take a very discrete back seat most of the time) but there will remain a very considerable international presence long after 2014. That can be guaranteed.

    Under who’s collective banner all these thousands of personnel will be remains to be seen. UN? NATO? ISAF (Development)? Who knows?

    EU banner? – Not very likely.

  8. avatar
    Ovidiu Si Dana Velniciuc

    ue dont support us but afghanistan?i am young i wanna make a better worl,…i have the ideas…but nobody listen to you…in UE if you are youn and if you wanna make somrthing nobody helps you.i wanna make houses for dogs and cats to the street.houses for old people for womens who dont understand with his husband.i want to make a better worl but nobody help me.nobody cares about young and smart people

  9. avatar
    Andreas Agathokleous

    The EU is unable to support its own member states. Why on earth should it intervene in countries outside the EU such as Afghanistan? Cyprus, e.g., is still illegally occupied and Nicosia is the only EU capital to be divided. Just a reminder…

  10. avatar
    Harry Tsopanos

    you are idiots,see the disaster you are creating in Europe with austerity and unemployment and stop this nonsense about helpin Afganistan,Usa should help it,they invaded there not us,tell your president and the eu counsil,all the well paid beaurocrats,their time is coming,european union will colapse soon,then they will be on the unemployment line with us.

  11. avatar
    catherine benning

    You have to look back before you look forward. How did Europe become involved in Afghanistan in the first place and why?

    Was it because the USA wanted to make sure the oil pipe that runs across that country was put securely in place? And are you aware that George W Bush was a college chum of Karzai? Or, was it because the Kaspian gas resevoir is connected through that country? Then of course, American bases there will reduce Russia”s power and the US will have free rein.

    And the bases:

    And the oil.

    So here we have it. It is all about resources and nothing whatsoever to do with whether women should wear a burqua, that garment of human subjugation that Europe allows in our midst, let alone there in a country that has nothing to do with our survival or way of life.

    Now go one step further and ask why is Europe in bed with a country that instigated the demise of the Euro and brought European peoples to their knees with the possibility of complete anarchy? The USA did this because the dollar was weakened by the Euro to the point where they feared their position was unsustainable unless they placed the European monetary unit out of business.

    Remember how the Euro was flying high and the world of nations were considering moving their funds from the dollar to the Euro.

    There is no way our leaders in Europe do not know what happened to the European currency and the devastation it would bring on the people of this continent, and yet, they remain joined to our financial enemy without question.

    Why is that? What do they believe will be the benefit of this subjugation of European peoples to the will of the Pentagon?

    Globalization is a con. It doesn’t take a genius to work that out. How long will our European leaders accept this circumstance without making fast moves to get out of the clutches of this sinister hold the US has over us all?

    Should we be in Afghanistan? Why are we in there? Had our leaders had our interests to the forefront, we would never have been persuaded to go there in the first place. Concern should be for Europeans first, our tax money pays for it. The US cannot run the world on our behalf, as their interests conflict with that notion.

    We are being held to ransom by corporations that absolve themselves of tax and responsibility. This is the outcome of their principle. Rampant Capitalism is poison to the human welfare.

    The European interest is to get out of Afghanistan and out of NATO fast.

  12. avatar

    Ten years ago everybody was an idealist and preached war against Alqaida. Now they got their war they don’t want to fight it anymore. God thank we have the NATO because the EU is not ready to make such big military decisions on their own. Our leaders are to weak they would only mess it up like they are doing with the current crisis.

  13. avatar
    Diego Armando

    Tell me what has it changed since the West went to war against a country that has not do anything against us?

  14. avatar

    Tyrants have been brought to justice, nations have been liberated. What else do you want a annual circus to make it official?

  15. avatar
    Tony Ortiz

    Par in parem non habet imperium,Among individuals as among nations respect the rights of others is peace. Benito Juarez

  16. avatar

    I believe before judging Afghans and labelling them brutal and
    senseless people, you need to walk in their shoes first. We have been
    suffering foreign intereferences for the past 5000 years. Just in the
    last century, first it was the British, then the Soviets, then
    Pakistan and now America and the whole world joins the party. No one
    through the history has ever asked what we want. We never asked the
    British, the bloody Pakistanis, the Russians, the Americans nor NATO
    to come to Afghanistan. They have always been uninvited guests.

    Please don’t be educated ignorants by sitting somewhere in the Europe
    and calling Afghans terrorists or people who don’t want peace.

    The Afghan people have been suffering pain and fear of war for the
    past 4 decades now.
    Even now the Afghan people are trapped between three types of distinct
    terrorist groups. 1. The USA and International Forces brutlessly
    killing and murdering innocent Afghans even new born children 2.
    Taliban by committing suicide attacks, kidnapping and slaughtering
    poor Afghans under the name of spies and bullshit 3. The Afghan
    government who are the warlords trained in Pakistan in early 1990s
    against soviets, destroyed the entire Afghanistan in Civil war for
    power and now are once again brought to power by the fool
    international community. Now tell me when were the Afghans ever asked
    for their opinions. Everything has so far been imposed on us. Everyone
    knows where the Alqaida leader was found and where the sources of
    terrorism exist. Yet still they are fighting the symtoms in

    Please leave us alone and let us live a peaceful live rather than
    using our poor nation and country for your dirty political and
    business wars!

Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Privacy Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.