Said Jawad: The US must focus on long-term objectives, stabilization in Afghanistan
April 20, 2011
Author: Welles Mattson
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: The Future of Diplomacy Project
In order to stabilize governance in Afghanistan, the United States and Afghan governments must formulate a shared vision for Afghanistan’s future. During a recent visit to the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Said Tayeb Jawad, former Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States, spoke with Meghan O’Sullivan, the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School.
In their interview for the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Jawad said such a political roadmap must systematically outline the role of U.S. military and civic involvement over the long-term, while also developing a broader, multilateral framework with NATO that protects and promotes Afghan civil society when confronted with Taliban insurgency.
The diplomatic deterioration of the U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership, however, has made the formulation and follow-through of this common cause increasingly difficult. “Unfortunately in the last two or three years this partnership has weakened. There is no shared vision about the future of Afghanistan,” Jawad believes. The reason is that “some of our shared struggles, be it fighting the Taliban or improving governance, have become increasingly politicized.”
Nonetheless, when asked about the appropriateness and effectiveness of the current U.S. policy of counterinsurgency, Jawad stressed the importance of addressing insurgency directly, and highlighted the geostrategic gains made under General David Petraeus. Since counterinsurgency is a costly, long-term affair, Jawad maintains that some form of reconciliation with the Taliban must take place, because durable political stabilization cannot endure using a “stick-only” approach.
Jawad also discussed the integral role Afghanistan’s economy will play in stabilizing its political future: “Fortunately we have two emerging powers in our neighborhood [India and China] that will need a lot of resources and minerals that are readily available in Afghanistan. This will provide us an opportunity to use their positive influence and economic interest to bring political stability to Afghanistan.”
Prior to becoming Ambassador of Afghanistan to the U.S., Jawad served as his country’s non-resident Ambassador to Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina. After 9/11 Jawad returned to Afghanistan to serve as President Karzai’s Press Secretary, Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of International Relations. In addition to serving as a Fisher Family Fellow in October 2010 for the Future of Diplomacy Project, Jawad is a member of the Afghan Student Initiative at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He was educated at the Afghan French Lycée Esteqial and School of Law and Political Sciences at Kabul University and later at Westfaelische Wilhelms University in Muenster, Germany. He earned his MBA from the Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
Before concluding the interview, O’Sullivan, asked Ambassador Jawad the extent to which the ‘Arab Spring’ movement has resonated with the Afghan people.
“The recent uprisings in the Middle East have three main dimensions: despair, disillusionment, and despotism. We have two of these factors in Afghanistan—poverty and despair, but what we don’t have is despotism. Afghanistan is a free society where people have the right to demonstrate and talk about their opinions.” Jawad also emphasized that a similar uprising in Afghanistan is unlikely, given its unique history.
Citing the deadly April 2011 protests in Mazar-i-Sharif, where peaceful demonstrations were compromised by Taliban insurgents, Jahad said, “Over the last thirty years, some of our abrupt changes have brought more misery to the Afghan people, being in the form of the communist coup d’état, the Mujahedeen government, and the Taliban.” For this reason, he believes the Afghan youth are “more seasoned, more cautious.”
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