President Donald J. Trump 12 Polikarpova str.
The White House Moscow, Russia
Washington, D.C. Feb.7, 2017
Dear Mr. President,
The largest and most complex challenges facing civilization in the twenty-first century are international terrorism, the growing threat of religious extremism, and the expanding drug epidemic that feeds the first two. To effectively combat them, we need concerted action by all countries and peoples of the world.
Today, Afghanistan, which became a planetary center of heroin production and the “zone of chaos”, represents an enormous threat to international peace and security. Completing the military mission and the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan heightened instability both in Afghanistan itself, up to possible development of the new phase of civil war, and in other countries in the region.
The war in Afghanistan is the largest (involving more than 50 countries of the world) in modern history and the longest foreign conflict in American history, which has led to enormous human (thousands of American soldiers dead, millions of refugees, dead and wounded Afghans) and financial losses: every hour of the military operation in Afghanistan is worth about $4 million, and the entire war cost the United States nearly $1 trillion. In years to come it will require huge additional funds to support the U.S. military in Afghanistan, and finance treatment and rehabilitation, military pensions and disability benefits.
Now, 15 years after the start of the Operation Enduring Freedom, it is obvious that the mission has failed: Today, Afghanistan does not have its own development strategy; there is no stable system of government or economy; the Afghan power structures are unable to ensure security in the country; the Taliban movement that had earlier captured a large territory in rural areas launched an offensive on major cities; the Islamic State’s influence has increased throughout the country; the population is widely involved in the production and distribution of drugs – Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the world’s opium.
All programs offered by Western states are limited to matters of donor assistance and are not designed to build either political or economic independence of the country, nor are aimed at any sustainable social and cultural development. In the Human Development Index, Afghanistan takes the 171st place out of 188 states. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Afghanistan is the worst place to be born on Earth. According to WHO, over 60% of Afghanistan population suffer from mental disorders.
In recent months, despite all the efforts made, the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. All this is a matter of great concern and makes Afghanistan a source of heightened terrorist and drug threat to the entire world.
Assessing and analyzing events and the situation in Afghanistan (since 2002, at request of the government of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, we have initiated activities to restore a completely destroyed health system), and as a direct participant in the creation of the public health system in this country (my surgeon’s professional activity has been closely linked with Afghanistan over the last 30 years), I believe that the time has come for the world community to pay closer attention to the humanitarian challenges and especially the issues of health, education and culture in this country.
Today, the main criteria of maturity of a modern state and society (military, political, social and economic stability) must include the ability of the state to adequately evaluate and counteract the consequences of both external and internal threats, of which the extremization of society and especially young people is the main challenge for the entire civilized world.
Essential means of combatting the extremization of society are education, decent health care, culture and science. In the age of globalization, without these components there are no anti-terrorism actions that can solve the problem of extremization of the population.
The future of any state depends on the level of health, education, culture, and scientific and technical knowledge of the population.
It’s high time for all of us to realize that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem, and in today’s situation it is extremely important to search for alternative approaches and ways to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Since one of the most important professional responsibilities of physicians is to timely identify threats to human health and lives, warn Governments and general public thereof, and take adequate measures to combat them, the Xth (XXVIth) Extraordinary Pirogov Congress of Physicians, the highest professional medical forum in Russia, which took place in Moscow on 21 May 2016 and was attended by representatives of civil society of the Russian Federation and Central Asian states, formed an independent International Committee of Humanitarian Cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, which called the international community (physicians, educators, scientists, military officers, figures of culture and arts, representatives of public, political and religious organizations) for joint action to hold an international conference in 2017 to discuss Afghan humanitarian problems and options to secure peace in Afghanistan
The idea of holding an international humanitarian conference on Afghanistan has been supported by representatives of civil society in many countries, as well as international organizations.
In early 1980s, physicians in many countries of the world, having combined their efforts in the world movement International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, warned all mankind about the impending terrible danger the world would face in case of use of atomic weapons in resolving military conflicts and called for their total ban.
The Nobel Peace Prize of 1985 For Merits in Building Public Awareness and Bending Human Consciousness in Favor of Peace and the process of nuclear disarmament evidenced that the physicians’ warning was understood, perceived by government officials, international organizations, politicians, military strategists of all countries possessing nuclear weapons, and endorsed by all people on Earth.
The threats of terrorism and radical Islam that swept the entire world, and the growing drug epidemic, which feeds the first two and is coming to turn unmanageable, pose a new threat to all humanity, not less than atomic weapons, and it is our professional duty to warn the world again about the impending danger.
The International Committee of Humanitarian Cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, bringing together physicians, educators, representatives of science, culture, arts, military, social, political and religious organizations in many countries – Afghanistan, Central Asia, Pakistan, Iran, India, China, Russia, members of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF, a NATO-led contingent of military units from 50 countries of the world) — with the support of the heads of states and governments may be a response to new challenges, and in cooperation with representatives of Afghan society and authorities may contribute to the promotion and establishment of peaceful dialogue between the warring parties in Afghanistan.
It is only the people of Afghanistan who should determine and build their future through a broad national dialogue on peace. We were directly and actively involved in such processes when formulating and implementing the policy of national reconciliation in Afghanistan (1987-1992).
Today, unfortunately, relations between Russia and the United States are going through hard times, and the restoration of mutual confidence between our two countries in the current situation may be possible only on the basis of cooperation in solving problems significant for both sides.
Russia and the United States now share a common interest – counteracting and combating international terrorism, religious extremism and drug trafficking. The willingness of our countries to join efforts in combating these threats could demonstrate the ability to achieve progress in bilateral relations.
I would hope that common sense will prevail and our countries will soon return to the policy of strategic partnership.
Dear Mr. President, we both represent one and the same generation. I am seeking your understanding and support.
I have devoted all my life to a beloved cause.
I am a doctor, a surgeon, I have gone through wars. I know firsthand what wars bring to warring countries and peoples.
Any delay in taking really effective measures means thousands of broken lives and early deaths, including children, as well as huge social and economic losses.
The Organizing Committee of the International Humanitarian Conference on Afghanistan decided to appeal to the President of the United States of America Mr. Donald Trump and the President of the Russian Federation Mr. Vladimir Putin to chair the patronage of the International Humanitarian Conference on Afghanistan.
The entire world would welcome a positive decision on this issue. It would bring an opportunity to unite the efforts of the world community, representatives of various ethnic groups in Afghanistan, representatives of the government and the opposition, ready to engage in constructive dialogue, as well as international organizations to develop a realistic strategy to complete the war in Afghanistan and to discuss the measures needed to secure peace in Afghanistan and its further peaceful development.
The time has come for in-depth discussion of Afghanistan problems involving wide international community. Coping with the terrorist threat and helping millions of people cannot be achieved without a combined effort of the entire world community.
All countries involved in the war in Afghanistan are tired of it. A “short victorious war” initiated by President Bush has turned into a protracted positional war for the United States and NATO.
American history knows the periods when the country was shaken by many thousands of protesters against the Vietnam war. As the American historian Philip Davidson wrote, “Throughout the Vietnam war, the United States has little pondered over political, economic and psychological consequences of their military operations. Nobody paid any attention to the deaths of civilians and unnecessary destruction, which both produced negative political effect.”
Today, it became apparent that it is time to end this senseless and hopeless war in Afghanistan.
Refraining from support or criticism of any Government, we could contribute to the establishment of the long-awaited peace in the war weary beautiful country – Afghanistan.
Our combined voice – the voice of the wide international community supported by the heads of leading countries in the world – will be heard and will allow to formulate comprehensive proposals to counter global and regional challenges, and will help governments find a way out of today’s critical situation.
Dear Mr. President, with all respect for your principled civil position, I appeal to you and to the President of the Russian Federation Mr. Vladimir Putin to support our initiative, and on behalf of the International Committee of Humanitarian Cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan I ask you and the President of the Russian Federation Mr. Vladimir Putin to chair the patronage of the International Humanitarian Conference on Afghanistan.
Today, Russia and the United States have a unique opportunity to achieve progress in bilateral relations.
The whole world expects urgent joint action by the two powers in the fight against the terrorist threat.
Our concerted action could alleviate suffering and lead to the rescue of many human lives, which the entire international community will definitely support.
Turning Afghanistan into a stable and peaceful nation where no threats come from and which is able to secure decent life for its people, should be a strategic goal for the entire international community.
There is no alternative to a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.
All wars must end in peace.
Yours sincerely and wishing you every success in your work,
Ashot G. Sarkisian, M.D.
Professor of Surgery
President of the Russian Medical Association,
Chairman of the International Committee of Humanitarian
Cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
Former Member of the Russian Parliament
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The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
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