A new report put out today by The Century Foundation urges the start of serious peace talks among the parties to the Afghanistan War. The report warns that even with the massive influx of U.S. troops over the past year, the war has settled into a stalemate in which neither side has a credible potential to eliminate the other on the battlefield. As such, the only credible path to an end to the Afghanistan conflict is through serious negotiations, which must begin now.
The Century Foundation's call for serious negotiations to end the war reinforces the message pushed by the Rethink Afghanistan campaign for months, specifically that the only feasible way to end the war is through a political settlement, and the longer we wait, the less acceptable the settlement is likely to be. From the foundation's report:
For all sides, the longer negotiations are delayed, the higher the price is likely to be for restoring peace at the end. While negotiations will involve difficult trade-offs and priority-setting, a substantive agreement that would end the war in a way acceptable to all parties is possible. The sooner a peace process starts, the better the odds that a genuine peace can be reached well ahead of 2014.
Earlier this year, a report by Felix Kuehn and Alex Strick van Linschoten showed that current U.S. policy was standing in the way of negotiations and allowing more radical elements, who are less open to negotiation, to take control of the Taliban. This latest report reinforces the view that the sooner the U.S. abandons its demand for a de facto surrender before talks can begin, the better.
The Century Foundation's report also relayed the importance of withdrawing troops from the war:
A willingness of ISAF troop contributors, and particularly the United States, to accept a phased withdrawal will thus be an important component of any political settlement. In negotiating a phased withdrawal with the Afghans, there will need to be consideration of the capacity of the declining force levels to deter signatories from reneging on their obligations during the transition period, as well as a consideration of whatever residual elements, if any, the future Afghan government might wish to request after major forces have withdrawn, and what ongoing military training, assistance, and support--if any--the Afghan government would seek for its own security forces.
This new report is just another indication that the ongoing war isn't making us safer and isn't worth the cost, and the time is now to start real negotiations to end the conflict.
If you're fed up with this war that's not making us safer and that's not worth the costs, join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter, and find others who agree with you in your hometown at your local Rethink Afghanistan Meetup.