Jens Stoltenberg (Oslo, 62) is at the helm of NATO, for a few more months, during the debacle of the Americans and Westerners in Afghanistan.
In a long videoconference with some international media he wanted to give his opinion on everything that is happening.
“It breaks your heart to see the suffering, the tragedy that Afghanistan is suffering”, confirms Stoltenberg who, surprisingly, defends the strength of the Western alliance and guarantees that nothing will change in Afghanistan.
Asked why the evacuation operation is not being extended, the NATO Secretary said that “all the allies saw the need to have as much time as possible to evacuate as many people as possible, but the longer you stay, the greater the risk. of a terrorist attack by ISIS or other terrorist groups. And this is a real danger ”.
However, many allies continue to say that there is not enough time and at this position Stoltenberg declared that now “The biggest challenge is not to get people out but to take them to the airport, whose surroundings are controlled by the Taliban. Staying there other days without being able to bring people to the airport would be useless and dangerous. Now we move at an evacuation rate of about 20,000 people a day with 80 planes. At the moment we have taken away almost 100,000 people ”.
NATO is on this world stage and is currently providing technical and diplomatic support to coordinate the efforts of the allies. It is likely that when the military evacuation ends, NATO will continue to work to evacuate people on commercial flights. “We expect – the Secretary said – that the Taliban will honor their commitments, both to allow people to go out and to respect human rights. We have diplomatic, economic and financial tools and we will use them. The World Bank has suspended a support of 1 billion dollars and NATO all its support ”.
The senior official, regarding the upcoming end of his term which practically coincides with the loss of Afghanistan, said “how painful it is to see what is happening. It is a tragedy for the Afghan people. I was prime minister in 2001 when Norway decided to join the joint effort to send troops to Afghanistan. And during my seven years as NATO Secretary General that mission was a very important part of my mandate. So I have been following Afghanistan very closely for many years. And it breaks your heart to see the suffering, the tragedy that Afghanistan is experiencing, and the people who have to leave their country or those who have to stay but fear for their lives. And to see that progress in political rights, in civil society, in women’s rights, are now at risk ”.
Asked what lessons can be learned from such mistakes, Stoltenberg clarified that “there are many lessons to be learned, but one is that using military force is a very serious and difficult decision, and he is not sure whether or not it will work. In any case, NATO must be ready to use military force again. Because I remember that the military community has been criticized for failing to act on atrocities in Rwanda or elsewhere in Africa or for not reacting quickly to atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. NATO used military force to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and the Balkans and to defeat the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Sometimes it is necessary to use military force, even if it does not solve all the problems nor is it the answer to all the threats we see ”.
What no one explains, and not even Stoltenberg was able to give an answer, is how after 20 years of powerful investments to create the Afghan army, pay their salaries, finance their training, equip them with weapons, it has been possible to see a similar collapse, unconditional surrender and fighting. A risk caused by a lack of leadership that, perhaps, the Americans could have understood long ago. But now it’s too late.