Security, Middle East
There is a serious flaw in Washington’s approach to Kabul and the war.
Hard Choices are Needed to Solve Afghanistan's War
The U.S.-Taliban talks are moving ahead but where are they headed to? They may be aspiring for a comprehensive peace agreement but could just end up with a partial deal.
A comprehensive agreement might establish a framework for achieving peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan under a government legitimized by the constitution and democratic elections. But it would be challenged by the Taliban. And a partial deal might provide for the exit of foreign forces, leaving the Taliban as the commanding force of change for Afghanistan’s future. But it would be contested by Kabul. Either way, the war that we know may end but conflict will continue.
Both options raise questions. One might ask whether legitimacy justifies Kabul’s claim to power even if it has failed to create effective economic and security institutions and governance structures, and lacks a writ over nearly half the country. Equally one might wonder if an undefeated insurgency has a right to lead the country while lacking constitutional backing, domestic legitimacy, and broader support of the population? According to a 2018 countrywide survey by the Asia Foundation, 82 percent of Afghans have “no sympathy at all” for the Taliban.
The idea of power-sharing is also debatable. How do you have power-sharing when the Kabul government and the Taliban do not share the same political system? Afghans are not known for sharing power as we saw after the Geneva accords of 1988 back at the time of Soviet withdrawal. They would rather fight to have full power.
A Flawed View of the War and Peace