According to the agreement, the number of US troops in Afghanistan will be reduced from 13000 to 8600 in the next 135 days, while the Taliban need to meet the demands of the United States for anti-terrorism while conducting peace talks with the Afghan government. If all goes well, the U.S. military will withdraw completely from Afghanistan in the next 14 months.
Although the peace talks between the trump administration and the Taliban have lasted for a year and a half, and the progress of the past few months shows that the final agreement is not surprising to the outside world, it is, after all, a key first step towards ending the 18 year war in Afghanistan.
Objectively speaking, the patience and urgency of the United States and the Taliban in the process of peace talks are not so much due to the common expectations of the two sides for peace as to the helplessness that they can no longer fight.
For the United States, the actual duration of the war in this quagmire has exceeded the Vietnam War and set a historical record. The financial and material resources and the number of casualties caused by this quagmire far exceed the 9 / 11 incident itself, which was the beginning of the war. It would have been too much to maintain large-scale military operations.
For the Taliban, although it repeatedly warned the United States by making various attacks and other ways, it was difficult to gain advantage in the confrontation with the advanced equipment of the United States Army. The organization has been in a state of war for many years, unable to achieve political goals.
The current peace agreement between the two sides is clearly Trumps most needed political achievement with eight months to go before re-election. So even if there was a last-minute incident in September when he had to give up the meeting at Camp David because of the Taliban attack, trump made a surprise visit to Afghanistan last Thanksgiving and reiterated his campaign commitment to bring American soldiers home.
However, although the current withdrawal schedule is also in line with the reality, it undoubtedly has a strong special pattern. The 14 month withdrawal cycle covers the election node in November, which makes the voters have enough expectations; and for more than a year, they can make full observation and judgment on the relevant situation inside and outside Afghanistan. After 14 months, if trump is re elected, there will be a lot of opportunities for readjustment.
This means that the first challenge whether the peace agreement can truly bring peace is the reconciliation process within Afghanistan in the next 14 months or even less.
In fact, the eagerness of the United States to leave aside the Afghan government and negotiate directly with the Taliban from the very beginning has buried many hidden dangers. Later, because the current Afghan government was deeply involved in internal conflicts and was unable to protect itself, it had to follow the pace of U.S. peace talks and push forward with the tide to expand contacts with the Taliban.
On the other hand, the Taliban expressed their willingness to promote peace talks and end violence in various ways. On February 20, Taliban deputy leader Haqqani published a signed article in the New York Times saying, if we can reach an agreement with foreign enemies, we will be able to resolve internal differences in Afghanistan through dialogue..
The problem is that in the face of the history of tribes first and then states, and the reality of fragmentation of state or national identity, it seems not difficult to invite the foreign enemies who did not originally belong here, but it is destined to be a more challenging and difficult process to reach a compromise between different forces in this land. This requires strong and common will, great courage and superb political wisdom on both sides.
It must be seen that the role of the United States in this difficult process remains crucial. Although the trump administration will try its best to put pressure on both sides, especially the Afghan government, for the sake of domestic election pressure, the latter is also likely to seek help from the Democrats such as Pelosi on the basis of so-called human rights in order to safeguard their own interests, so as to try to achieve a certain degree of checks and balances against the Taliban with the checks and balances of Washington. In the middle of February, Pelosi attended the Munich Security Conference and held a side meeting with Afghan President Ghani.
The peace agreement is a new start, but more like a long end. Compared with the exaggeration of the US president, Secretary of state and other political considerations, the US defense chief espers statement reflects the militarys calm this time: this is the moment of hope, but only the beginning. The road ahead is not easy, and lasting peace in Afghanistan requires patience and compromise on all sides. .
However, this sentence is only half right: the lasting peace in Afghanistan needs the joint efforts of all Afghan parties and the international community, but what is not needed is any form of intervention and intervention by the United States to meet its hegemony and self-interest.
Diao Daming (researcher of national development and Strategy Research Institute of Renmin University of China)