January 29, 2018

NOTHING MADE IT EASIER TO DEFEAT ISIS THAN THEM CLAIMING TO CONTROL A STATE:

We Can't Win in Afghanistan Because We Don't Know Why We're There (STEVE COLL, JAN. 26, 2018, NY Times)

For years, almost every American general dispatched to command the Afghan war has conceded that the conflict must ultimately end with a political settlement, supported by regional powers, and that there is no purely military solution possible against the Taliban. Nonetheless, the United States continues to prioritize military action over diplomacy. Stalemated civil wars like Afghanistan's can last a very long time. They end only through negotiations with the enemy.

The Obama administration tried talking in secret to the Taliban and made some progress but was undone by the contradictions in its own strategy and by Inter-Services Intelligence, which wanted a hand in any deal, even though the Taliban's leadership preferred to be free from Pakistan's influence. Many Afghan government officials and former Taliban leaders have tried on their own to talk their way to peace during the past decade; some have been assassinated by hard-liners.

For the United States, an alternative to pursuing difficult and uncertain negotiations would be to give up and leave, but the most likely result of a unilateral military pullout now would be more violence and rising influence for the Taliban and the Islamic State.

The most rational course is one for which President Trump would seem poorly suited: to work closely with allies, prioritize high-level diplomacy, be smart in pressuring the Inter-Services Intelligence and accept that in Afghanistan, a starting point for any international policy is humility.

Trump rejects peace talks with Taliban in departure from Afghan strategy (Roberta Rampton, Jonathan Landay, 1/29/18, Reuters) 

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday rejected the idea of talks with the Taliban after a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan, in an apparent contradiction of his own strategy to end America's longest foreign war.

Trump condemned the militant group for the carnage in Kabul and pledged to "finish what we have to finish."

Trump's comments suggest he sees a military victory over the Taliban, an outcome that military and diplomatic officials say cannot be achieved with the resources and manpower he has authorized.

When he announced an increase in U.S. troops to Afghanistan in August, U.S. officials said the goal was to force the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement.





Posted by at January 29, 2018 4:39 PM

  

« THERE IS NO BEAR IN THE WOODS: | Main | HE IS DONALD: »