Important details need to be worked out in U.S. talks with the Taliban and the Afghan government. But even if these things cannot be agreed on, the United States should still withdraw.
Whether the recently agreed-upon U.S.-Taliban draft peace framework will lead to real peace negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban or serve as U.S. President Donald Trump’s pretext for departing Afghanistan is unknown. The hard choices for the United States, the Afghan government, the Taliban, and regional and international stakeholders are still to come.
If the United States effectively uses its considerable residual leverage in Afghanistan, Pakistan does not try and turn Afghanistan into a weak protectorate, and the Taliban does not overreach inside Afghanistan, there is reason for optimism.
Unlike his predecessors, who asked India to downsize its presence in Afghanistan in order to placate Pakistan, U.S. President Trump is asking India to do more.
Congress has fallen behind on meeting oversight obligation, which is to assess the fitness of officials who would represent the United States overseas in diplomatic or military capacities.
The Trump administration’s strategy in Afghanistan is promising, but the United States must devote substantial resources and effort to ensure its success.
The Moscow meeting with the Taliban showed that advancing peace talks will require innovation and risk-taking. It is essential that the United States reengage in this process directly and keep pushing on all fronts until a format works.
Two nuclear-armed rivals in South Asia—India and Pakistan—have not fought openly since the 1999 Kargil conflict, but the lack of active war has not meant the absence of violence.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Zalmay Khalilzad would become an adviser on achieving reconciliation in Afghanistan. This comes after the Trump administration directed the State department to see whether formal talks between the Afghan government and Taliban are possible.
While the outrage against outsourcing the Afghan war is real, the tragic reality is that the growing role of private armies is very much part of the modern hybrid wars.