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What have we done with Afghanistan?

A strange silence reigns in Kabul today: from the deafening noise of overloaded C130s taking off in rapid succession, we have passed to the rare roaring of almost empty commercial planes, the noise of the streets has died down since automobile traffic has dropped, that the passers-by are rare and silent, that the women have become silent again. The classrooms, emptied of half of their schoolchildren and pupils, resound only with muffled footsteps, or answers acclaimed by obedience, under the orders of the new teachers.

→ ANALYSIS. In Afghanistan, communication battle on women’s education

The silence of a people put in a regulated cut challenges us all: what have we done with Afghanistan, once liberated from Daesh by the power of our armies? The showcase of Western consumer society, the example of the successful democratization of a tribal society, a haven of peace in the heart of a region at war for decades? None of this: despite the trillions spent, and the lives consumed of civilians, soldiers, volunteers who have followed one another to train – especially for war but also for peace, tolerance, solidarity – ethnicities and emerging classes of the country, Afghanistan today looks like a huge field of ruins fought over by neighbors: China, Pakistan, Iran and Russia, mainly.

And yet, really do none of the seeds sown in such a haphazard fashion have a chance to bear fruit – at night, behind closed shutters, under the veil of some and the militarized clothing of others? Why should we not trust, not so much the new rulers but the old ruled for whom they are now responsible? Can the international recognition which the “Taliban” so need not be granted to them from now on by Westerners and mainly Europe, not in the name of “realpolitik” but in the name of the common humanity that brings us together?

A recognition that validates the existence of a people that the wind of democracy and human rights has only touched but who has tasted the scent of freedom and who will know how to recognize it even in the midst of the acrid odors of war. We, the West and the whole world, have everything to lose from a new political and economic ostracism, from the exclusion of Taliban Afghanistan from the “family” (dare the word) of nations.

→ BENCHMARKS. War in Afghanistan: a look back at 20 years of American intervention

May our values, as abused as they may have been in recent years or even weeks in this rocky lump in the heart of Asia, be the beacon of a benevolent and intelligent foreign policy that makes room for the logic of submission and grabbing advocated by the dictatorships that surround Afghanistan. Everything remains to be built here, but seeds have been sown there. Let us not let opportunism, intolerance and hatred steal the smile and the future from the children we have seen running to our schools, free.


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