Kox versus Milliband: 'After war comes peace'

17 November 2009

Kox versus Milliband: 'After war comes peace'

'After eight years of war without anything being achieved, it's time to start talking about peace in Afghanistan. Sending more soldiers simply makes it more difficult to put a stop to this hopeless war.' This was the message which SP Senator Tiny Kox took to Edinburgh for British Foreign Minister David Milliband. The two came face to face during a meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Scotland's capital.

Milliband makes no secret of his wish to see Dutch soldiers extend their stay in the Afghan province of Uruzgan. There is, however, no chance of this happening, Kox told him during a meeting of the Dutch delegation with the British Foreign Minister. “A majority in the Dutch Parliament is sticking to the agreement not to prolong the military mission. NATO knows that and must keep to this agreement.”

The same message had already been delivered to the Australian parliamentary delegation in Edinburgh. Kox indicated that the Australian and British governments should have no illusions about this: the Dutch military mission would rapidly be drawing to a close. “But,” he added, “what's even more important is that we realise that constantly sending more troops to Afghanistan is clearly leading only to the emergence of ever greater Taliban resistance.” Kox drew Milliband's attention to the fact that in 2005 NATO was of the opinion that the number of Taliban fighters had fallen below a thousand. “So how can it now be that the Afghan army, well-equipped and 100,000 strong, needs ever more foreign troops to prevent a Taliban victory? Something is going terribly wrong and it's something which NATO should be taking a close look at.” The SP senator called on the British government to cease its efforts to win the war and instead to seek ways in which it can be stopped and an agreement forged in Afghanistan with all parties involved.

During the round of meetings in Edinburgh it also became clear from the contributions of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis just how great concerns over Afghanistan have become. Admiral Stavridis noted that in his view NATO has sufficient capacity to bring the conflict to a successful conclusion, but for his part Rasmussen acknowledged that victory through military means alone was no longer on the cards. In a growing number of countries public opinion is turning against continuing the war. “People aren't stupid,” said Kox. “They see that this war is leading nowhere. In the Netherlands too people want to help the Afghan people, but that will not be achieved if we go on with this war. It's time that politicians understood that.”

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