Katrina vanden Heuvel with ideas for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Question: What is the US strategy moving forward?
vanden Heuvel: We owe the people of Iraq real reconstruction aid. One could call it what one wants. I’m not sure I’d call it reparations, but one, we’ve, you know, we’d destroyed their country, we have failed to provide them with the basic security, with the basic elements of human security. I think we need to withdraw expeditiously, as Barack Obama has talked about, and find a way with the international community to bring services, elemental human services to the people of Iraq and bring in the countries in the region. Let’s have a diplomatic surge after this military surge. And that’s what I think we owe the people of Iraq: sovereignty, security. With Afghanistan, I think we owe them a similar debt, which is, and with the people of Afghanistan have turned against the NATO western coalition for, one, failing to provide reconstruction aid, failing to provide security, allowing a central government in Afghanistan to breed corruption, and of course the aerial attacks, air raids have killed too many civilians, and that inflamed anti-American sentiment. We would do much better to find a way to bring the international community to Afghanistan to find a way to negotiate the Karzai government with the moderate elements of the Taliban providing human rights security for women and pouring money into that country for targeted economic development aid, not for military escalation, which will ensnare the United States as it did the British empire, the Soviet empire in a quagmire. So, there are many resources we can bring to bear diplomatic economic development and others instead of military escalation. It’s a broader question though, Brett, because I think we have not done a good enough job in rethinking what national security means. In Europe, there’s a lively debate about human security, which doesn’t put military might at its core. Sure, military use is part of the toolbox, but there have to be other means of engaging these two countries, short of continuing these two wars which have done, won nothing for our security, alienating people in those countries, turning them against America and the West and not providing for their citizens’ needs.