Ashdown set to become super-envoy to Afghanistan

by Stephen Tall on December 5, 2007

So says The Guardian:

Gordon Brown and President George Bush are expected in the next week to bring some badly needed coordination to aid and military effort in Afghanistan by appointing Lord Ashdown as super-envoy to the country. Brown is set to make the announcement to MPs before the Commons rises for Christmas in what is seen as a statement of his foreign policy approach to the fight against terrorism. …

Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, is being asked to coordinate the roles of the UN and Nato for the first time, and is likely to pursue a political settlement that requires some resolution between the government of Hamid Karzai and the less extreme elements of the Taliban. Ashdown is known to be gloomy about the prospect of success in Afghanistan unless there is far greater cohesion between aid agencies, armies and foreign governments. Previously a successful UN envoy to Bosnia between 2002 and 2006, he has pointed out that Afghanistan is receiving a 20th of the military effort and a 50th of the aid money that was put into Bosnia. …

Ashdown’s appointment also suggests that Britain and the US are likely to take a more emollient stance towards a political settlement. Ashdown has said he believes the west needs to scale back its political ambitions to establish a western-style democracy in the country. Ashdown has been a strong opponent of the proposed US policy of aerial spraying of poppy crops. Opium production has reached record levels, flooding the western market with heroin and leaving Afghan farmers dependent on warlords and the Taliban for income.

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What exactly is a SUPER-Envoy? Is it better paid than a normal envoy or just comes with a bigger chair at meetings?

Seriously, it would be rather good to have someone in Afghanistan who knows what he’s talking about and isn’t trying to fight wars on nouns.
Opium is always going to be grown in Afghanistan, so let’s buy it from them ourselves – it might go some way to plugging the enormous gap in the West between demand and supply of medical opiates. Then we might not have cancer patients dying in unmedicated agony and PCTs randomly removing heroin-replacement treatments with predictable results.

by benjamin on December 5, 2007 at 2:39 pm. Reply #

I really got the impression at the last Lib Dem conference from Paddy that he was not going to get involved in Afghanistan, it was a poisened chalice.
In my opinion, it would be very hard to rescue the south of Afghanistan from the Taliban; the north may be able to hold out.
It is hard for the west to attend properly to Afghanistan when so many troops are engaged in Iraq, and most of those simply want to go home.
It was remarkble that Ashdown succeeded in Bosnia, he deserves a lot of credit for that. Afghanistan will be considerably harder still.

by Geoffrey Payne on December 5, 2007 at 10:55 pm. Reply #

The Brits don’t really have that many troops in Iraq.

If they were serious about helping the US in Iraq they would have double-bunked in US bases.

That much extra help would surely be a positive development.

With double-bunking, they don’t have to use X Brit soldiers to defend X Brit soldiers.

Being there, is that actually a help, if being there is only one rung up from a self-operated POW camp?

The Brits don’t have that many troops period.

Ultimately, there is something strategically irrelevant with the Brits.

When you have air-strikes going down on your perimeter, you are basically losing.

Might look like you are fighting on TV, but it really means that somebody, who is not under pressure, has traipsed up to your front door.

by Tazia on December 13, 2007 at 2:02 am. Reply #

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