The War in Afghanistan: How to End It
David Miliband, SM' 90, British Foreign Secretary, 2007"2010
Description: [from the MIT News Office]
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband urged the Afghanistan government to consider bringing Taliban supporters into its political system, telling an MIT audience that the prompt pursuit of a political deal among Afghanistan's warring factions was necessary to build a lasting peace in that country.
"My argument today is that now is the time for the Afghans to pursue a political settlement with as much vigor and energy as we are pursuing the military and civilian effort," said Miliband SM '90. Miliband's talk came as U.S. and British troops make a renewed push to secure the Taliban stronghold of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. The Western troops have been attempting to control the town of Marjah, and aim to secure the region's major city, Kandahar, this summer.
Coverage of the Miliband talk from the MIT News Office While acknowledging the necessity of the military action, Miliband struck a different point of emphasis in his talk, stressing the importance of a simultaneous process of political reconciliation. "Afghanistan will never achieve a sustainable peace unless many more Afghans are inside the political system, and the neighbors [nearby countries] are onside with the political settlement," said Miliband, whose Labour Party is expected to face a strong challenge from the opposition Conservatives in Britain's forthcoming general election later this spring.
The lecture was intended in part to send a message to Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who has suggested his country hold a jirga in April - a kind of grand peace negotiation about the country's political future. Western governments want to make clear to Karzai, re"elected in controversial circumstances in 2009, that they expect improvements in governance to accompany improvements in security.
"The international community will judge him by his actions, not his words," Miliband warned, later adding, "The Afghans themselves must own, lead and drive such political engagement."
About the Speaker(s): David Miliband is the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, in which post he has served since June 2007.
Secretary Miliband was educated at Haverstock Comprehensive School in London. After graduating with first class honors in philosophy, politics, and economics from Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, he completed a master's degree in political science in 1990 at MIT, where he was a Kennedy Scholar. A lifelong soccer player, he also serves as president of the South Shields Football Club.
His first job after completing his education was with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. He then held a position as research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, followed by secretary of the Commission on Social Justice, which was set up by Labour Party leader John Smith to work out new approaches to welfare policy. From 1994_1997, the secretary worked as head of policy for Tony Blair before going on to lead the prime minister's Policy Unit from 1997_2001. A Member of Parliament representing South Shields since 2001, he entered the cabinet as Minister of Communities and Local Government in May 2005. He served as Secretary of State at the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs before being appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Secretary Miliband helped to found the Centre for European Reform.
Host(s): Office of the President, Office of the President
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