Is Peace Possible in Afghanistan

twitterOnly international backing, ideally through the UN Security Council, can make any agreement durable.–op. cit.

Vikram Singh and Jacob Stokes, opinion contributors to The Hill, discuss peace prospects in Afghanistan. These authors claim that regional powers and the United States have common interest in a stable peace in Afghanistan. They suggest that an international coalition might promote and enforce a peace agreement.

I find the authors’ views optimistic:

  • They discuss the interests of regional powers–China, India, Iran, Pakistan–but brush over the role of the Taliban.
  • The Taliban is unlikely to give up in negotiations what they have won after decades of war.
  • A toothless international coalition is unlikely to have much influence with the Taliban.

To an extent the authors acknowledge these points. They conclude:

Presidents Trump, Xi and Putin have a real interest in directing their diplomatic, military and intelligence establishments to work together on ending this war. The question remains whether their common interests in this one sphere will be enough to drive focused cooperation despite broader tensions and competition. 

“Focused cooperation” is a vague goal far short of “lasting peace.”

Vikram Singh is senior advisor for Asia at the United States Institute of Peace. He was U.S. deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and deputy assistant Secretary of Defense.

Jacob Stokes is a senior policy analyst in the China program at USIP. He previously served on the national security staff for former Vice President Joe Biden and as a professional staff member for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

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4 Responses to Is Peace Possible in Afghanistan

  1. josephurban says:

    I think Afghanistan and the border area of Pakistan are still largely tribal areas. While the “great powers” draw imaginary boundaries in the mountains, the people that live there could care less. Afghanistan was never a “nation” in the same sense as the USA or Germany. It remains a region of autonomous groups with no allegiance to any central government. Who do we make a treaty with?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gary Perry says:

    There are so many “Warlords” and so much “tribalism” and so many small internal power struggles it is difficult to see how true peace could come about in Afghanistan, especially when most of the population between the ages of 20 and up have basically no education, no skills (other than tribal fighting and growing poppies for the drug trade) and no means of becoming educated and trained quickly without and committed industry in Afghanistan.
    The cost of bringing Afghanistan into the 21st century may just be too costly in dollars and human life for those countries trying to help.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. whungerford says:

    The struggle in Afghanistan has been over the question of who is in charge–the indigenous Taliban or a government propped up by foreign armies. The Taliban may well be capable of governing in the absence of foreign intervention.

    What are the implications for us, I wonder? Will we accept a victorious Taliban after so much struggle against it? Will we turn our backs on our allies there? Will we abandon women to whatever the Taliban may bring? It appears we have little choice.


  4. josephurban says:

    Gary. Good points. It seems as though Afghanistan has always been a black hole for the “great powers”. Alexander the Great, the British Empire, The USSR, now the USA… not sure why these powers want to take over this region of mountains. One theory is that UNOCAL (the oil company which dominated the region in the 1990s-200s) wanted to build a pipeline to the Caspian Sea? And would not do so unless the region was under US control. Who knows? Seems as though most conflicts, under the surface, end up being about controlling resources. Who knows?


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