When Labor landslide Tony Blair won the 1997 UK election, becoming Prime Minister after 18 years of Tory rule, he assembled a cabinet filled with figures who exuded energy and promised a new political era.
One of the most charismatic faces of the “new job” was Congresswoman Clare Short, who was given a role suited to her enthusiasm: Secretary of International Development.
At the head of the new department — equivalent to the ministry — she becomes the spokesperson for an ambitious foreign policy which aims to be more idealistic and united. He succeeded in increasing the budget for international aid and paid special attention to African and Asian countries.
Short was in this position during the September 11, 2001 attacks and helped shape the Blair government’s strategy for attacks against the Taliban, insisting that the process considered not only the military side, but also plans for development.
Known for her strong character, she broke up with her boss two years later, unhappy with the invasion of Iraq, now considered to be Blair’s biggest political mistake.
Short, 75, resigned his seat in 2010 after 30 years in the British Parliament. Today, he devotes himself to projects in multilateral institutions. By email, the former minister said that we must give the Taliban a credit of confidence and negotiate with the fundamentalist group, at least initially.
He also claims that the humiliation suffered by the United States shows that the country has learned nothing from previous fiascos. “There is no doubt that Afghanistan is a humiliating failure. For the United States, it comes after Vietnam and Iraq. The question is: can the United States learn? It is extraordinary that they did not succeed.
Ms. She was British Secretary for International Development on September 11, 2001 and during the attack on the Taliban. What do you think of the group’s return to power? I remained in government until 2003, when I resigned due to the invasion of Iraq. Since then, it was already clear that the occupation of Afghanistan had failed. The Taliban gradually took control of more territory and half of the population depended on humanitarian aid. America’s initial instinct [ao atacar o Afeganistão] it was revenge, so his motives weren’t clear from the start. The invasion was successful and the Taliban melted away after little fighting. Today we know that the group wanted to negotiate a deal, but the United States did not want to talk to them. it was the big mistake [dos americanos]. They should have declared victory and withdraw the army.
Development support should then have been provided to improve people’s lives. Going back further, it was American policy, with the help of the Saudis, that prompted the Islamic movements and warlords to overthrow the Soviet-backed progressive government in order to drag the Soviet Union into a situation. similar to that of Vietnam.
What kind of threat does the return of the Taliban pose to human rights in Afghanistan, especially women? The Taliban are now different from those who ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. They have traveled abroad and visited other Muslim countries. Afghanistan has also changed in 20 years, with a more educated population, including girls, and working women at all levels. The Taliban have promised that these rights for girls and women will continue. Time will tell, but it would be wise for the international community to engage with them because they need economic support, otherwise there will be a catastrophic collapse. This need for help means influence to bring the Taliban up to international standards.
Mrs. Do you believe in the Taliban when they promise to be more moderate this time around? We must wait and see if the promises to respect women and girls and to govern inclusively are honored. But this is much more likely to happen if all parts of the international community engage with them.
Like Ms. Do you assess the role of Western countries in helping Afghanistan since 2001? Was it enough to improve people’s lives? There has been significant progress in the lives of ordinary Afghans. But there was also terrible corruption, endless war and death. There is no doubt that Afghanistan is a humiliating failure for the United States, the United Kingdom and NATO [aliança militar ocidental]. For the United States, this comes after the failures of Vietnam and Iraq. The question is: can the United States learn? It is extraordinary that they did not succeed. The US military continued to present optimistic reports to Congress on progress in Afghanistan, and in fact, they were downright misleading and hid the problems. For the UK, which has now left the European Union and wants to hang on more closely to its relationship with the United States, it creates a problem when Americans fail so badly.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, with whom Ms worked, called the US decision to leave Afghanistan a “fool”. Ms. are you okay? Tony Blair’s comments on the Afghan crisis were extremely stupid and crudely worded. The logic of their position is that the United States should stay in Afghanistan indefinitely until there is complete defeat. I don’t think he’s welcome to the White House again.
President Joe Biden said the mission in Afghanistan had never been to build a nation or build strong institutions, but rather to eliminate the threat of further terrorist attacks. Ms. Do you consider these objectives to be exclusive? The confusion over what the United States was trying to achieve was a big part of the problem. Trying to promote the development of a country as complicated as Afghanistan by military means was doomed to failure. The United States spent $ 1 trillion, but most of it did not reach the people.
Ms. Are you worried that global jihadism will be encouraged by the decision to leave Afghanistan, especially after images of chaos at Kabul airport? There is no doubt that it will be largely motivated by the American failure in Afghanistan.
What kind of assistance can the West offer ordinary Afghans after these events? There is a humanitarian crisis and a terrible drought that is creating needs for half of the Afghan population. The first point is to ensure sufficient support and that all those in need are reached. In addition, multilateral institutions must be available for long-term engagement with the Taliban in order to establish an inclusive system of governance that respects the rights of people.
What kind of paper mrs. see the UN and NGOs? They will be essential in trying to ensure the best possible transition to the Taliban regime. The United States, United Kingdom and others who participated in the military effort in Afghanistan must offer generous support through the United Nations and other acceptable agencies.
NGOs play an important role in providing humanitarian relief. But it is essential that efforts be made to include Afghans in the delivery and distribution of aid, rather than foreigners coming and going when the immediate crisis is over and local capacities have been weakened rather than strengthened.
Claire Short, 75
Graduated in Political Science from the University of Leeds, was a Labor Party MP (1983-2006) and Independent (2006-10); as well as Secretary for International Development (1997-2003) and Chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (2011-16). Today, he chairs the board of directors of the Alliance of Cities.