De Hoop Scheffer criticises NATO's Afghanistan approach

17th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer argues that "Every country was out for itself" in reconstructing Afghanistan.

In an interview with Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland, NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer argued that the alliance's approach to the reconstruction of Afghanistan was misguided. He believes that making individual member states responsible for specific provinces hindered international cooperation.
De Hoop Scheffer, who is stepping down from his position on 31 July, added "the fact that all countries think they are champions of reconstruction obstructed actual civil and military cooperation. Every country was out for itself. Looking back, I would have gone for a closer combination of military effort and reconstruction. Perhaps I should have judged that better five years ago." De Hoop Scheffer was appointed head of NATO in 2004, not long after it took over leadership of the allied campaign in Afghanistan.
Despite what he calls 'Herculean' challenges, he insists that NATO has made significant improvements in Afghanistan. "There are schools, economic activity and roads are being built." He believes NATO has successfully managed to respect Afghan culture and religion.

The NATO chief defends himself against claims that his appointment was a reward for Dutch support for the US-led invasion of Iraq. "That is patent nonsense," he said. "Do you really think President Chirac or Chancellor Schröder would have approved my appointment because the Netherlands supported George Bush's policies? That would be an enormous overestimation of my and the Netherlands' importance."  

Asked whether his appointment can be regarded separately from Dutch support for the war, he admitted "if the Netherlands had been against the invasion of Iraq that would not have improved my chances. But the insinuation that it supported the war to ensure my appointment is an insult to my integrity and I resent that. It was a political decision made in the Netherlands at the time, one which I still support."

De Hoop Scheffer said he is certain that the parliamentary committee investigating the decision-making process behind the Netherlands' support for the invasion of Iraq will agree with him. The Davids’ committee was set up in January 2009 by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

The NATO chief also talked about his future and his relationship with presidents Bush and Obama. "I think you'll be seeing my face pop up again on the international stage."

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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