Negotiations Are the Best Way to End the War in Afghanistan

Why Talking to the Taliban Is the Right Move

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a car bomb blast in Kabul, January 2019. Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS

In 2012, while I was serving as senior adviser to the State Department special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, I met in Istanbul with a group of Iranian scholars and former diplomats. After listening to the Iranians protest the United States’ purported plans to establish permanent bases in Afghanistan, I told them that they were worrying about the wrong thing. Their problem was not that U.S. forces would stay forever; it was that, sooner or later, they would leave, and the Iranians and their neighbors would once again be stuck with a problem that they could not solve.

Sure enough, that time is coming. In December, The New York Times reported, “The Trump administration has ordered the military to start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming months.” The U.S. government and the Taliban are reportedly close to agreement on a partial framework of a peace deal. Now

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