Thursday, February 14, 2008

No Wonder Karzai Didn't Want Him

Paddy Ashdown ,who was rejected by Karzai as the UN super envoy to Afghanistan, published this piece yesterday in the FT.

Too sensible by half I'd say.

Which led me to find this. In May last year he spoke at Gresham College, City of London. At the site there's a curiously formatted transcript as well as audio and video files of his speech.

Which was entitled "After Iraq: Shall we ever intervene again?"

Confronting subject matter to say the least.

It's a very thought provoking piece and well worth the time.

Some samples:

"We live in turbulent and instable times and, as the world moves deeper and deeper into the era of resource scarcity, global warming and massive shifts in the tectonic plates of power, this mix is only likely to get more potent and more dangerous."

"The Iraq experience - and to an extent that of Afghanistan too - represent the triumph of hubris, nemesis and above all and amnesia over common sense and past experience. In both of them we have, to a greater or lesser extent, abandoned past lessons in favour of a kind of nineteenth century 'gun boat' diplomacy approach to peace making. And it isn't working."

"So, spend at least as much time and effort planning the peace as you do in preparing for the war that precedes it; make sure your plan is based on a proper knowledge of the country, especially its political dynamics, and leave your ideologies and prejudices at home. It is a mistake to try to fashion someone else's country in your own image; leave space for them to reconstruct the country they want, not the one you want for them."

"Our current policies for peace making are dominated by the projection of force, when what we should be doing is projecting influence, good governance and the rule of law.

We intervene as though democracy was our big idea. It is not. We are not even particularly good at it in our own countries. Good governance is our big idea; the rule of law is our big idea; open systems and the market based economy - these are our big ideas. A stable democracy, fashioned to the conditions and the cultures of the country concerned, is what comes afterwards - it is the product, of good governance, not its precursor.

We seem to believe that nations and democracies can be built at the point of a bayonet, when they can only be built through institutions."

And I especially admire his use of the Sun Tzu quote that begins his FT piece.

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."

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