The United States can make peace with its enemies by fostering economic development in the Middle East and Central Asia and facilitating dialogue within the region, according to Former Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman.
Grossman, a current fellow in the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs who also served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey in the mid-1990s, shared his experience as a diplomat in volatile Middle Eastern countries at a lecture Monday evening. During the talk, he said the future of 21st century diplomacy depends on Middle Eastern countries becoming more economically and ideologically open.
“Prosperity leads to reduction in radicalization,” Grossman said. “When people have a job, the less they are seduced by the Taliban.”
The United States can only make peace with Afghanistan if the Taliban breaks its ties with Al Qaeda and respects others’ rights — particularly women’s rights, he said. A key tenet of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework, an international agreement to help fund Afghanistan’s economic development, dictates that the country’s human rights record must improve, Grossman added.
The U.S. government will greatly scale back military forces and financial investment in Afghanistan in the next few years, leading to negative economic consequences, Grossman said. He said a “New Silk Road” — an increase in economic cooperation between Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Central Asia — could generate economic activity for the nation that would help it “invest in itself.” He added that he thinks connecting Afghanistan to these regions will help promote diplomacy in both Afghanistan and Pakistan more than the violent uprisings in Syria or Egypt.
When dealing with the Taliban, the United States has had to carefully balance military force with diplomatic efforts, but “it’s hard to fight and talk at the same time.”
Grossman said the increased number of Pakistani Fulbright scholars studying in the United States gives Pakistani citizens an opportunity to see and evaluate the United States for themselves.
Max Cook ’17 said he enjoyed hearing about on-the-ground experiences from an accomplished government official.
In 2004, Grossman was appointed career ambassador, the foreign service’s highest rank.