Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Tactical, not terminal

March 23, 2012

The predominant media narrative was pretty straightforward:  U.S. soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians, the Taliban respond by suspending participation in U.S.-sponsored Afghan peace talks. Game over.

Washington Extra – Peace by piece

February 16, 2012

Not since Vietnam has the United States sat down with an enemy it was fighting on the battlefield and negotiated an exit from war. That long-standing policy might end this year if a carefully choreographed diplomatic dance takes U.S. and Afghan officials to a negotiating table with the Taliban.

Washington Extra – Talking with the Taliban

December 20, 2011

For most Americans and for many here in Washington, the idea that the United States could broker successful talks with the Taliban that lead to the end of the Afghan war is mind-bending. And yet, that is what senior U.S. officials have allowed themselves to entertain as 10 months of secret dialogue reach the point of breakthrough or collapse. It’s a small glimmer of hope where there once was none.

Washington Extra

July 26, 2010

wikileakIn many ways the documents released by WikiLeaks last night merely underscored the bleak assessment of the Afghan war which General Stanley McChrystal issued last August.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

With Karzai off to Washington, Taliban talks back in focus

May 8, 2010

marjah"The effort required to bring about a compromise was indistinguishable from the requirements of victory—as the administration in which I served had to learn from bitter experience."

from Afghan Journal:

Engaging the Afghan Taliban: a short history

March 17, 2010

(The niche that once held a giant Buddha, in Bamiyan. Picture by Omar Sobhani)

(The niche that once held a giant Buddha, in Bamiyan. Picture by Omar Sobhani)

For those pushing for high-level political negotiations with the Afghan Taliban to bring to an end to the eight-year war,  two U.S. scholars  in separate pieces are suggesting a walk through recent history  The United States has gone down the path of dialogue with the group before and suffered for it, believing against its own better judgement in the Taliban's promises until it ended up with the September 11, 2001 attacks, says  Michael Rubin from the American Enterprise Institute in this article in Commentary.

from Global News Journal:

Afghanistan’s protracted election sours the mood

By Sean Maguire
October 15, 2009

An atmosphere of stale defensiveness has sunk over Kabul. The mood has been lowered by the protracted saga of the Afghan election count, almost two months on from the first round August 20 vote. It's a drama veering towards farce more often than post-modern play, as we wait endlessly for a result, that like Godot, does not want to come.

Reasoning with the Taliban

October 13, 2009

AFGHANISTAN/OBAMAIn the past few weeks, as President Barack Obama closes in on a decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan, a couple of alluring ideas have resurfaced in Washington.

Plan B for Afghanistan: cut and run?

September 22, 2009

In Monday’s blog, I looked at McChrystal’s recommendation for a significantly stepped up effort to stabilize Afghanistan, and a major shift in strategy to win over the Afghan people.

Coincidence? April spy meeting, Taliban leader (probably) killed

August 10, 2009

A top level U.S.-Pakistani spy meeting in April.

A top Taliban official killed (90 percent certain) in August.

Coincidence?

USA/CIA Director Leon Panetta and Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, held a hush-hush meeting in the Washington area  in April.