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David Miliband: Next leader of UK Labour Party

Discussion in 'World Affairs' started by Nahraf, May 14, 2010.

  1. Nahraf

    Nahraf SENIOR MEMBER

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    David Miliband is probably the next leader of UK Labour Party after resignation of Gordon Brown. He and his brother Ed Miliband are both potential leaders. Miliband are Jewish. David Miliband raised the issue of Kashmir and have shown a balance approach to Pakistan.

    Miliband?s self-interest

    Rajiv Dogra
    First Published : 10 May 2010 10:57:00 PM IST
    Last Updated : 10 May 2010 02:05:45 AM IST

    In a letter to his son, a 17th century Swedish statesman Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote: ‘Know my son, with what little wisdom is the world governed’. What the wise Count has by and large stood the test of time. On that general observation there can be little doubt, given the suffering and the misjudgements the world has been dragged through all these years. But no one can accuse the British foreign secretary David Miliband of lack of wisdom; in fact the charge against him is that he has an overdose of it and that he uses it in speech, and in writing, to cajole people into seeing the world as he wishes them to view it.

    His latest offering ‘How to end the war in Afghanistan’ in The New York Book of Reviews is therefore quite in character. But one look at the bottom of the article is sufficient to make one wonder if he has written the article in jest — the article is dated April 1. Perhaps, for once, he really does not want us to take him seriously. It is so inelegantly written that it cannot qualify as a piece of literature, nor can it be included in the category of fiction because it lacks the imaginative flourishes. Yet, the intent of the article regarding ending the Afghan war merits attention.

    There is no doubt that the NATO countries want to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. For Miliband, and for them, only the future in Afghanistan seems to be real, the hardships of today are nightmarish. Therefore by quitting he is seeking a revenge for disappointed hopes too; let them, he seems to imply, manage the mess after we leave. The NATO countries have many reasons to leave Afghanistan. When a definitive history of the Western countries’ military engagements of recent years is written it will loosely connect them with some questionable military engagements. There were the avoidable military engagements first in Bosnia and later in Kosovo. It can be argued that the conditions there necessitated external intervention. Every bad local human rights condition cannot and should not invite military intervention from outside. Otherwise what is the concept of national sovereignty for? At any rate how long can the external forces continue to stay in the region? Then there was the unnecessary war in Iraq followed by the occupation force. It is debatable whether all the destruction there has left Iraq any better? The military defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan was a historical necessity but what followed thereafter can best be termed as mishandled intervention in Afghanistan.

    The economic meltdown in the west is an obvious contributing factor towards this desire to quit. There are many reasons like the excessive greed of the bankers, the increasing reliance on service industry, and the winding down of the manufacturing sector which led to the current economic difficulties. But the multiple military engagements have added greatly to the growing budgetary deficits of countries like UK, Italy and even the USA. These economic worries, and the voter fatigue with an unwinnable war, have led to this desire to quit Afghanistan with as much grace as they can muster. In that sense their prescriptions of what should be done to run a stable Afghanistan afterwards, is as much wishful thinking as fervent hope.

    Typically, David Miliband goes a step beyond all this. He makes a case for change as if the present is a dirty diaper. Perhaps he has a point given the mess that NATO engagement has become; maybe there is a case for change. But why does he want the world to put all its eggs in the Pakistani basket? A possible clue is provided by what he believes is the lesson Britain learnt after fighting three futile wars in Afghanistan between 1839 and 1919; the key to stability according to the British imperial strategists was a self-governing, self-policing but heavily subsidised Afghanistan. To achieve the first two of these goals Miliband gives the primacy of place to Pakistan.

    His bias in favour of Pakistan shines through when he claims ‘Given the scale of the geopolitical challenges in this region — including the long-running tensions between India and Pakistan and the presence of Iran — it can seem that Afghanistan is fated to remain the victim of a zero-sum scramble for power among hostile neighbours. The logic of this position is that Afghanistan will never achieve peace until the region’s most intractable problems are solved’.

    The most intractable problem in his eyes can be nothing else except the Kashmir issue. Having thus advocated Pakistan’s case on Kashmir, Miliband goes on to sing its praises: ‘Pakistan is a country of 170 million people. It is a nuclear power. Pakistan will act only according to its own sense of its national interest. That is natural. Its relationship with Afghanistan is close to the core of its national security interests. Pakistan fears the build-up of a non-Pashtun Afghan National Army on its doorstep, and it is perpetually worried about India’s relationship with Afghanistan’.

    He goes on to assert that ‘progress (in Afghanistan) cannot be achieved simply by a more serious, more equal US-Pakistan strategic security understanding... Alongside Pakistan’s fears about its western border, fears about Pakistan’s own involvement in Afghanistan need to be addressed’.

    Clearly, in Miliband’s scheme of things self-interest is of primary importance. He recognises that to secure early withdrawal and to have some semblance of order in Afghanistan they would need Pakistan’s munificence. And for this they would have to appease and propitiate Pakistan. In that process they need India to wiggle and accommodate Pakistan. They would also welcome the large financial commitments that India might continue to make in Afghanistan. It is likely that $1.3 billion in aid that we have given to Afghanistan may have won us many friends there. But at what cost? We are a poor country and the money that we have committed there has been at the cost of development projects in India.

    Second, does any aid recipient remain obliged forever? How many Europeans recall today the transformational role the Marshal plan had played in their lives? How many Pakistanis acknowledge the billions of dollars in aid that they receive annually from USA? How many Nepalese are grateful for the vast infrastructure projects that India has built there? And in Afghanistan itself we have built hospitals, industrial institutes and agricultural projects in the past too. But the Taliban wiped out all memories of that with a strike of dynamite. And they might do so all over again as soon as the US and UK forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

    In that post-West phase we will have to depend on strategy and statecraft to protect and advance our interests. And in this there is no harm in observing and studying the Pakistani game plan closely. Whether we like it or not it seems to be paying rich dividends to Pakistan. If there is still some doubt, do ask David Miliband.
     
  2. Ahmad

    Ahmad SENIOR MEMBER

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    He is a brillian politician, he will most likely be the next leader of Labour party. It will be interesting to see if his brother challenge him for the leadership bid.