Force not the way in Afghanistan

  • May 1, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - Canada needs a new strategy if it wants to see peace and development in Afghanistan, the new secretary general of Brussels-based Pax Christi International told The Catholic Register.

Claudette Werleigh, a former prime minister and minister of social and foreign affairs of Haiti, also cautioned that, while Canadians may have high ideals for their soldiers in Afghanistan, a foreign army is unlikely to achieve equality for women, universal education or economic development in one of the world’s poorest nations.

 Werleigh spoke to The Register while visiting Pax Christi partners in Toronto and Montreal in late April.

“The pattern of culture cannot be imposed on countries or people by force,” Werleigh said of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. “It doesn’t work. It doesn’t give the expected result.”

As a Haitian who lived through some of the worst violence and civil chaos in that country, Werleigh is sympathetic to Canada’s desire to protect innocent Afghans from the politics of the gun,

“I am from Haiti. I do know that at times people feel so powerless against repressive forces that they welcome and they wish that other people would come over and help them to solve the situation — to solve the situation so at least they can aspire to have normal life. I am very conscious of that,” she said.

But as the military mission drags on through years prospects for success grow dim, said Werleigh.

“Imposition by force comes up with killing a lot of ordinary people, civilians. It is often perceived as foreign — an imposition of force from abroad,” she said.

There’s no easy, off-the-shelf formula for fixing the world’s broken countries, but Pax Christi would like to see the Western powers come up with answers that go beyond deploying their military, Werleigh said.

“We have not been audacious enough, or creative enough,” she said.

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