NEWS

Basis for democracy

Many people believe poverty and the lack of democracy are at the root of terrorism. Why doesn’t NATO do something about that instead? My view is that if you wish to have a democracy and you are starting from an area that is not secure, the role of the military is to do what it can to ensure the stability of a particular region. Once that is achieved, it has to be followed by the other roots of democracy, which include some sort of economic reconstruction, reform of the education system and some focused assistance over a long period of time. You can’t just walk away from it, it doesn’t work that way. It didn’t in postwar Europe, the Marshall Plan certainly was the engine. I’m not saying that we have to do Marshall plans everywhere in the world but you have to stay engaged and this includes diversity of engagement. It is not just military, it has to be non-governmental organizations, private volunteer organizations, focused aid from across the family of nations which has a long-term interest that these fragile democracies succeed. You can only do that by staying involved, but it’s not just the military solutions. Yes, but wasn’t this the reasoning in Iraq? And a year later, hasn’t this failed? (This interview was held three days before the revelations of alleged abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners by US and British soldiers in prisons.) Well it is interesting that people will make general pronouncements on the basis of what has happened in a very short period of time. My experience goes back to the Balkans, for example, where the Western world has been committed for 12-13 years of steady progress. In FYROM, for example, we are still there, but it stable. We are about to transfer primacy from NATO to the EU in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A few years ago, people were saying: «Forget the Balkans.» It will not happen overnight. Afghanistan’s map suggests two-thirds of the the country is ready for security, stability and reconstruction. We are going to make a difference there, but is it going to be done next year? Absolutely not. Nor will it in Iraq.