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Why It’s Time to Negotiate With the Taliban

Posted by The Agonist on April 7th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Daniel Serwer | April 7

Ahmad Masood / ReutersThe Atlantic – News that the U.S. may negotiate with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan raises many questions, the most important of which is, should we, or shouldn’t we? That question has generated a small cyberspace library of its own in recent weeks, with the consensus so far in favor. It is widely believed that there are at least informal official talks about talks going on behind closed doors. But should we harbor any continuing doubts? And what can we expect from negotiations?

The arguments in favor are often based on the explicit proposition that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, with the implicit understanding that the U.S. will want to get out as soon after 2014 — the date fixed by NATO for turnover of security responsibilities to the Afghan government — as possible. If we really believe there is no military solution, why bother fighting to what conflict management experts call a “mutually hurting stalemate,” a condition in which neither side can improve its position by further military effort? If we want to get out, why not make the arrangements now rather than waiting for what we believe to be inevitable? Much blood and treasure can be saved and little of value lost. …

Delegates of an Afghan peace jirga in Kabul discuss negotiating with the Taliban. By Ahmad Masood / Reuters

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