U.K. Defence Minister Fox envisions long-term involvement in Pakistan and Afghanistan
BRUSSELS (March 26, 2011) – British Defence Minister Liam Fox said today that Western nations should be prepared for long-term involvement in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Too often in the West we believe that democracy is developed by giving people the vote,” he said. “The idea that you can go from nothing to a Jeffersonian democracy in 10 years is utterly ridiculous.”
Fox spoke as part of Brussels Forum on a panel on Pakistan also featuring new U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman and Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid. Brussels Forum is a high-level meeting of North American and European leaders to address pressing challenges facing both sides of the Atlantic.
Referring to Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal, Grossman agreed with Fox, saying, “Everyone has to recognize that we can’t do 1989 again and just leave the region.”
Rashid agreed that stabilizing the region militarily and economically will take time, but also emphasized that Pakistanis need to get their own house in order as well. Explaining that only one percent of Pakistanis pay income tax, he asked, “Why should the IMF support Pakistan if we don’t pay our income tax?”
Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski introduced the final session of the day, which dealt with the European Union’s complicated European Neighborhood Policy. “Having important new business doesn’t mean giving up on unfinished old business,” he said. “And Europe has a large pile of unfinished business.”
Specifically referencing Belarus, he continued, “We need to talk to neighbors because they are neighbors, even if they misbehave.”
As the conversation moved on to Libya, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko said the “Libya crisis clearly shows the need for solidarity. We see solidarity as an important part of European values, and Ukraine is a part of that solidarity.”
Earlier in the day, Ambassador Masafumi Ishii, Japan’s ambassador for policy planning and international security policy in the Japanese foreign ministry, Keio University Professor Yorizumi Watanabe, and Jean Pisani-Ferry, the director of Bruegel, discussed the challenges Japan faces in recovering from the deadly earthquake and tsunami.
Ishii said that the earthquake’s nuclear aftermath has pointed out the need for “much, much higher safety standards.”
Pisani-Ferry, speaking about the economic effects, pointed out that people speculated that September 11, 2001, would lead to shake-ups in the supply chain, which did not happen. “The resilience of the production system, the ability to shift production, to reorganize, shouldn’t be underestimated.”
Brussels Forum is an annual high-level meeting of the most influential North American and European political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges facing both sides of the Atlantic. Participants come from 50 countries, and include heads of state, senior officials from the European Union institutions and the member states, U.S. officials, Congressional representatives, academics, and media.
Brussels Forum is organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), the Federal Authorities of Belgium, the Egmont Institute, and Daimler. Additional sponsors include the European Union Delegation to the United States, Deloitte, BP, BNP Paribas Fortis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, the Ministry of Defence Republic of Latvia, Centre of European Studies, European Liberal Forum, and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.