Saturday, July 16, 2016

Historic Belgium Treaty Could Save Afghanistan

World leaders and NATO allies at the 2016 Warsaw Summit can pledge their “long-term commitment to Afghanistan through the Enduring Partnership,” but it won’t change a thing.

Afghanistan will remain a failed state unless those allies heed the advice of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. In his latest book, World Order, Kissinger wrote: “A major diplomatic effort is needed to define a regional order to deal with the possible reemergence of Afghanistan as a jihadist center. In the nineteenth century, the major powers guaranteed Belgian neutrality, a guarantee that ... lasted nearly one hundred years. Is an equivalent ... possible? If such a concept - or a comparable one - is evaded, Afghanistan is likely to drag the rest of the world back into its perennial warfare.”

Stated simply, if Afghanistan were granted a Belgian-type neutrality, it could - with the help of major powers, as Dr. Kissinger says - rid itself of the Taliban, Haqqani, Al-Qaeda and other extremist cancers. The aim would be to produce a peaceful, self-governing and self-sustaining Afghanistan.

NATO commitments have been crucial in helping protect Afghanistan from becoming a sanctuary for Islamic extremists and drug traffickers. International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) deployed in Afghanistan since 2001 have kept the pro-Western Afghan government in power by keeping the pro-Pakistan Taliban at bay, but they have failed to vanquish the insurgency.

Since 2001, thousands of U.S. and allied forces have been killed or wounded in Afghanistan and billions of dollars have been spent in the conflict, yet the situation continues to worsen.

An “Enduring Partnership” policy to stay the course won’t work. It will not only damage NATO’s image as a guardian of freedom and order, it will prolong the suffering of Afghans who see no progress toward sustainable peace.

For NATO to succeed, it has to come up with a new strategy where the regional powers stop using Afghanistan as their proxy battlefield and agree on a treaty of non-interference in Afghan affairs.

Let us use the lesson of Belgian history as a model. 

From the end of the Middle Ages until the 16th century, the area now known as Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan center of commerce and culture. But from the 16th century until the Belgian Revolution in 1830, the area served as the battleground between European powers, causing it to be dubbed the “Battlefield of Europe.”

Under the 1839 Treaty of London, European powers guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Belgium, a pact that remains honored to this day.- Read More

Historic Belgium Treaty Could Save Afghanistan - Huffington Post


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