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Interview

David Loyn reporting from a British Army base in Afghanistan

may talk of Al Quaida, but they are just a distraction - it is US policy and their rejection of the UN that is the serious threat to world peace. Given how British foreign policy has improved since the departure of Blair, with for example the increased communication with the power factions of the Middle East (such as the Taliban) and a subsequent greater understanding of the conflict, I think it is possible to look at the coming change of President with hope, but I tend not to get too optimistic. There is also, of course, another side to the coin. The danger of Bush leaving is that the US may lose patience just when things seem to be looking like they could get better and pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan,

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leaving these countries to completely collapse.

The Taliban in just a few words? “Polite. Generous” Would you agree that the crises in the Middle East have ruthlessly uncovered the flaws of Western triumphalism and shown that democracy a) does not always work, and b) is not always what people want?

Yes! In general I would completely agree with that. However, this is not to say that I think democracy is wrong, or that it will never work in the Middle East. One can’t have a democracy without a free press, and a free press is in my opinion the most important single factor in the process of implementing social development. Democracy, accountability and transparency are all important. Trying to impose them from Washington is the problem. Again it is a matter of understanding the shades of grey. A directly exported Western democratic and aid system is not going to work; proof of this is clear for all to see in Afghanistan. One must understand the society you are trying to change and mould

VIVID 2nd Edition March 2008


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