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Afghanistan, Minuto Rizzo (NATO): “Errors? The US is not the Alliance”

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In Afghanistan, the mistakes made are there for all to see, but we must be careful not to confuse the United States with NATO, we must distinguish between the protagonists, while the secretary general of the Alliance Jens Stolteberg is wrong to “associate in all respects what the Americans did with what the Allies did “. It is the analysis of the “disastrous defeat” made by the former deputy secretary general of NATO Alessandro Minuto Rizzo, now president of the NATO defense college foundation, number two of the Alliance from 2001 to 2003, the years in which the United States invaded the ‘Afghanistan and NATO launched its’ Enduring freedom’ mission. But it was not all in vain, if only because in these 20 years an embryo of civil society has been formed, with which the new Taliban will have to deal. The first of the mistakes, says the ambassador in an interview with Adnkronos, author of ‘The road to Kabul’, is that “there was too much hope of finding a military solution, at least on the American side it was thought that the Taliban could be defeated and that was a mistake, given what happened in Vietnam or Algeria. There may be temporary successes, but not a definitive victory. ” ‘Too little has been invested in Afghan structures’ The second mistake, according to Minuto Rizzo, is that “too little has been invested in Afghan structures, it was thought that once a government was created, there would be a parliament, elections , that the country would have ordered itself. But Afghanistan is a very particular country, it has no access to the sea, it is difficult to access, with a substantially tribal history, in Kabul there was a king who reigned, but in the provinces each he did what he wanted, there is a Pashtun majority and there are many minorities, the Tajiks, the Uzbeks, the Hazaras … building a national government is a complex thing that takes a long time and we in the West are no longer used to it “. But has the whole West made a mistake or has there been those who have made more mistakes? “I would not put the United States and its allies on the same level: you have to be very careful with communication, you have to distinguish between the protagonists. The Americans arrived in Afghanistan in October 2001 after the attacks on the Twin Towers, because they wanted to chase Osama bin Laden and they wanted to that the Taliban expelled the leader of Al Qaeda from the country. The NATO of which there is so much talk in recent days arrived two years later and I myself – he recalls – presided over the North Atlantic Council in Kabul on 11 August 2003 “. in the reconstruction of the dates, it must be borne in mind that the Alliance remained in Afghanistan with the ‘Enduring Freedom’ combat mission until 31 December 2014. “Then it left as a fighting force, replaced by the ‘Trained and equipped’ training mission ‘explicitly aimed at the formation of the Afghan Armed Forces “, says the ambassador, who challenges Stoltenberg,” when he associates in all respects the NATO mission with that of the United States: all the evil in the world can be thought of as the Alliance, but NATO has to do with it up to a certain point, because in Afghanistan it has never had a political function, only as a security framework. The decisions to be taken on the elections or on the talks between the parties were the responsibility of the Americans “. ‘Doha agreements start of the end’ Of course, admits Minuto Rizzo,” the Europeans could have done more: we supported the Americans in the intervention made in name of the war on terrorism and we thought that Afghanistan would settle itself, always leaving the political direction to the Americans, without ever having a precise picture of the situation. “Surprised at the speed of the Taliban advance? “I did not expect it – acknowledges the former number two of the Alliance – I think we should have had a much stronger local sensitivity than any of us could have had”. For the ambassador, “the beginning of the end was the Doha agreements, when the Americans said they would leave and Donald Trump had reduced the military presence to 2,500 men “. ‘USA will they learn?’ they said even after Vietnam – Afghan soldiers obey cla n before a flag ‘The impression is that no one really realizes what Afghanistan is, no one has ever written in an official document that Afghanistan becomes like Switzerland, but the overall idea was that in the end things would be fine. ” And also on the formation of the Afghan army – without there being uniformity, since each country has done so according to its own model – the mistake made was to believe that the military would “obey the flag, when instead they obey first. to the clans, to the family … “Are the Taliban as they were 20 years ago? “Too easy to say that they are the same – is the ambassador’s reasoning – Maybe they became a little more civilized and then the local society changed. The countries that support them could try to change them”. Finally, the lesson to be drawn from the debacle: “Even after Vietnam it was said that the Americans would have learned the lesson, I very much doubt the wisdom of human beings – says Minuto Rizzo – However what you should know is that if you go to a country you have to stay long, because you can’t build it in 5 minutes “.

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