Leading article: Moral duty and self-interest

Share

The political crisis unfolding in the Netherlands could have repercussions far beyond that country's borders. The Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, appears to be fighting a losing battle to convince members of his coalition government to support the dispatch of more troops to Afghanistan. Not only could Mr Balkenende's government fall over this issue, the credibility of the Nato presence in Afghanistan (which is reliant on the arrival of Dutch reinforcements) could be fatally undermined.

In Afghanistan, the security situation is deteriorating at an alarming rate. There has been an upsurge in Taliban violence. And insurgents are adopting the horrific techniques of suicide bombing. A suicide attack in Kandahar province yesterday killed 24 people. And a Canadian envoy to Afghanistan died in a bomb attack in the same region on Sunday. A spokesman for the ousted Taliban regime has warned that more violence will follow. The country is showing ominous signs of going the same way as Iraq.

Nato countries must do everything in their power to prevent this from happening. Britain is right to honour its commitment to send 4,500 more troops to help to stabilise the country. And our government must put pressure on other Nato countries - especially the Dutch - to contribute too. With the US planning to withdraw thousands of troops, any shortfall in Nato boots on the ground could prove disastrous for the vulnerable Afghan government.

The world cannot turn its back on Afghanistan again. Unlike Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was indeed a sponsor of anti-Western global terrorism. Nato was right to support the US-led operation to oust that regime in 2001.

But, scandalously, Western promises have not been kept. Afghan presidential and parliamentary elections were undoubtedly a step forward for the country. But enormous problems remain. President Hamid Karzai's writ is largely limited to Kabul. Warlords hold sway over much of the rest of the country. And precious little of the reconstruction, promised by Nato countries in the wake of the US bombing campaign four years ago has taken place. Likewise, nothing has been done to wipe out the country's opium production, which remains the only reliable source of earnings for many Afghans.

The West has a moral duty towards the people of Afghanistan. But we should also heed the warning President Karzai made yesterday: if Afghanistan collapses, the country could easily become a staging post for international terrorism once more. It is in our self-interest that Afghanistan is not allowed to go under again.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both end winter fuel allowances for pensioners with enough income to pay the 40p tax rate  

Politicians court the grey vote because pensioners, unlike the young, vote

Andrew Grice
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after agreeing a deal on carbon emissions  

Beijing must face down the perils of being big and powerful – or boom may turn to bust

Peter Popham
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable