Where would you rather your children grew up? London, Glasgow … or Kabul?

Mark Sedwill, senior civilian representative for Nato, made one of the more bizarre comments of the year last week when he claimed that “children are probably safer [in Kabul] than they would be in London, New York or Glasgow or many other cities.”

His extraordinary remark was apparently an attempt to explain how unevenly spread violence is across Afghanistan, and how comparatively little of that violence takes place in major cities. According to his clarification, levels of violence (including criminal violence) in Kabul are comparable with those in Western cities.

While this may be statistically true, it hardly seems to take into account the pressures of living in a country at war, plagued by instability and poverty. Even more germane: according to Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth, Afghanistan is “the worst place on earth to be born … one in four children living there will die before the age of five.”

To his credit, Mr. Sedwill has attempted to address the furore surrounding his comments. Nonetheless, we’re left shaking our heads and wondering who teaches senior NATO officials how to communicate!

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