David Miliband, former British secretary of state for foreign & commonwealth affairs, discusses the effectiveness of Western policies in
Afghanistan, challenges and opportunities in the current military and
political climate, and practical proposals for moving forward.
Richard N. Haass
Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the preeminent independent, nonpartisan organization in the United States dedicated to the study of American foreign policy. Until June 2003, Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State as well as US coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and US envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process. He was also special assistant to President George H.W. Bush and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs on the staff of the National Security Council from 1989 to 1993. Haass is the author or editor of eleven books on American foreign policy, including War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars and one book on management. He is a Rhodes Scholar.
David Wright Miliband is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for South Shields since 2001, and was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010.
Country, south-central Asia. Area: 249,347 sq mi (645,807 sq km). Population (2009 est.): 28,150,000. Capital: Kabul. About two-fifths of the people belong to the Pashtun ethnic group; other ethnic groups include Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazara. Languages: Pashto, Persian (both official). Religions: Islam (official; predominantly Sunni); also Zoroastrianism. Currency: afghani. Afghanistan has three distinctive regions: the northern plains are the major agricultural area; the southwestern plateau consists primarily of desert and semiarid landscape; and the central highlands, including the Hindu Kush, separate these regions. Afghanistan has a developing economy based largely on agriculture; its significant mineral resources remain largely untapped because of the Afghan War of the 1980s and subsequent fighting. Traditional handicrafts remain important; woolen carpets are a major export. Afghanistan is an Islamic republic with two legislative bodies; the president is head of both state and government. The area was part of the Persian Achaemenian Empire in the 6th century BCE and was conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE. Hindu influence entered with the Hephthalites and Sasanians. Islam became entrenched during the rule of the Saffarids, c. 870 CE. Afghanistan was divided between the Mughal Empire of India and the Safavid empire of Persia until the 18th century, when other Persians under Nadir Shah took control. Britain fought several wars in the area in the 19th century. From the 1930s the country had a stable monarchy, which was overthrown in the 1970s. Marxist reforms sparked rebellion, and Soviet troops invaded. Afghan guerrillas prevailed, and the Soviets withdrew in 1989. In 1992 rebel factions overthrew the government and established an Islamic republic. In 1996 the Taliban militia took power in Kabul and enforced a harsh Islamic order. The militia's unwillingness to extradite extremist leader Osama bin Laden and members of his al-Qaeda militant organization following the September 11 attacks in 2001 led to military conflict with the U.S. and allied nations, the overthrow of the Taliban, and the establishment of an interim government.