Anatol Lieven on Bringing the Taliban Into the Political Process

-

afghan.us.flag.jpg
Anatol Lieven has a provocative piece over at the National Interest Online on what he calls the “meaningless” Afghan elections and U.S. strategy going forward.
I know very little about Afghanistan, but Lieven’s analysis strikes me as a nuanced argument that avoids the abstract, binary “stay the course/leave now” debate that is emerging among Washington pundits.
For Lieven, the crux of the Afghanistan nut is incorporating the Taliban into the political process. Lieven’s prescriptive recommendations for how to do this are difficult to summarize, but the passage below gives you an idea:

The Taliban should be actively encouraged to form a political wing and to take part in [parliamentary elections next year] along the lines of the bizarre, but in the end very helpful, system in Northern Ireland, where even at the height of the British campaign against the IRA, its political wing, Sinn Fein, remained a legal party and stood for election.
Negotiations should be opened with the Taliban high command on a peace settlement in Afghanistan, the offer on the U.S. side being the promise of an American military withdrawal within a long but fixed timetable, conditional on progressive Taliban ceasefires across increasing areas of the country. Where the Taliban does not agree to a ceasefire, military operations should continue. Pakistan should be used as an intermediary between the United States and the Taliban leadership.
In other words, the United States should pursue a strategy of talking and fighting at the same time. The goal would not be an early peace settlement or an early American and Western military withdrawal, since the first is impossible and the second would be disastrous. Rather, this strategy would recognise that it is to a great extent the Western military presence that is driving support for the Taliban in many of the Pashtun areas.

I’m not sure whether our war in Afghanistan makes sense at all – but if the Obama administration is committed to maintaining a large troop presence there for several years, then we need to entertain tactical arguments like this about how we will eventually extricate ourselves.
You can read Lieven’s article here.
— Ben Katcher

Comments

27 comments on “Anatol Lieven on Bringing the Taliban Into the Political Process

  1. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Taliban says bombs come from US, not Iran…
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KI05Ak02.html
    Does our war in Afghanistan make sense…only if you’re in the bomb business.

    Reply

  2. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    OutragedAmerican..will do..I don’t “hate” Teddy…I just can’t respect or trust him. I’m really curious to read his own words about Chappaquiddick…that’s got to be some first rate fiction…

    Reply

  3. Outraged American says:

    Kathleen, my mom was never a “great thinker” –she always
    operated at a gut level. My dad came from a relatively privileged
    family for an Anglo-Indian, whereas my mom grew-up dirt
    poor.
    My dad’s the intellectual, well, before his brain was Limbaugh-
    ized.
    But mom was a survivor (but one who consistently votes against
    her own interests like most Americans, so yes, she is a
    Republican) and went from being dirt poor in India to being a
    (again) semi-famous Southwestern artist. She related to Native
    Americans because they reminded her of Rajasthan in India,
    where she was schooled, in Ajmeer.
    In 1996 I shot a commercial in Jaipur, which is near Ajmeer, and
    our “Western” crew loved it. But even on my first trip back to
    India, in 1990, I loved Rajasthan. It reminded me of the
    pueblos and the wonderful endless desert.
    Send me your phone number please. I really want to hear your
    Kennedy stories. I really would love to meet your Hope friends. I
    want to go backpacking up on the reservations this fall and am
    hoping that the other TWN poster who lives in the area will join
    us on the trip.

    Reply

  4. Kathleen Grasso Anderfsen says:

    OutragedAmerican…Phew..glad you were kidding on the Mom, thing….I don’t consider myself a Democrat anymore…I always vote for Nader. I did vote for Kucinich in the primary…is your Mom a Republican? Just got your eaddress from Steve…will write shortly…

    Reply

  5. Suzy Orman says:

    I’m not to the point of wanting to further expose the staffer. I want the abuse corrected – and this kind of thing being done on the Committee to cease. At this point, I am not going to name the staffer. Other media may choose to do that but it doesn’t get the problem solved.

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    DonS,
    Norway refused to send troops to fight in Iraq, but is involved in
    Afghanistan through NATO – “for some cocked up excuse”.
    Women`s rights is currently at the top of the list of excuses here.
    My theory is that the elites in Europe for a long time have had a less
    optimistic view of the war in Afghanistan than the US elites. I think the
    European countries are willing to sacrifice some of their own soldiers, not
    to win the battle against Taliban, but to secure the continuing existence of
    NATO. It`s much cheaper than building up an independent and credible European
    defense force.

    Reply

  7. Outraged American says:

    The draft boards have been staffed for years. Last time we did a
    story on it, which was about 4 years ago, my interns who
    researched it said that the proposal was that everyone, including
    only children, married, students, females would be drafted, i.e.,
    a truly universal draft.
    If I remember correctly, and I might not ( I used to do nine
    shows a week about just about every topic on Earth including
    toe nail fungus) draft age would go from 18-33 and for people
    in the medical profession to early 40s.
    If “our” media put that out there, along with Israel’s sinister role
    in US foreign policy, do you think there’d be a chance in hell
    (which is what it would be) of a UsRael attack on Iran?
    Probably– Israel is nothing if not adept at false flag attacks.
    We had a few survivors of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty on
    the show. A false flag attack to get us into Iran though would
    have to be major. Have to make 9/11 look like a Dodger’s game.
    Kathleen, I was kidding about my mom. I’m sure, given your
    shared love and interest in Native Americans and that the stroke
    left her permanently weepy, she’d love a hug from you. So I will
    give her one and tell her about all the stuff you’ve done. She
    now hates Democrats though, as do I, but for different reasons,
    but she’ll appreciate that you hated Kennedy.
    For whatever reason, I was the only kid who went with her to the
    Snake Dance. The others were probably off having sex or
    dealing drugs. Coming from a large family it was one of the
    rare occasions that I got to spend time with my mom alone,
    which made it all the more special.
    BTW the other TWN poster and I are having lunch next week.
    Mexican food. Probably made by truckers. That one was for you
    POA.

    Reply

  8. DonS says:

    Right your are Paul.
    I have to keep reminding myself that most in the US would identify it as a civilized country. Yet it is a country that wakes up each morning at war, sterilized though it is. (of course it has its token other ‘civilized’ nations that participate in its wars and, incidentally, provide a fig leaf to the US policymakers — I do not buy the line that the wars are necessary, and that the other civilized nations are simply under contributing).
    How wonderful it must be to wake up in the morning and not be burdened by the realization that my country is killing people in my name, and for some cocked up excuse.

    Reply

  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Barack Obama to Cindy Sheehan: Get Lost
    At Obama’s Summer Place with Cindy –
    “Leadership” of Peace Movement, MIA
    by John V. Walsh, September 04, 2009
    I spent but a short time with Cindy Sheehan as she carried her antiwar protest from an earlier time at Crawford, TX, to Martha’s Vineyard, vacation spot for Obama and many other Democrat Party elite. As Cindy remarked, the real story was not that she was protesting Obama’s wars but that the “leadership” of the peace movement did not support her protest. When the target was Bush in Crawford, she was all the rage with antiwar celebrities, but not so now that the target is Barack Obama. While there is considerable enthusiasm for her anti-Obama protest on the part of the rank and file in the anti-war movement, a refusal of its “leaders” to notify their members far and wide, high and low, crippled the action.
    As a result of this betrayal, the numbers at Martha’s Vineyard were not large. But Cindy and her fellow anti-warriors were undeterred. While I was there, she mounted a spirited march down the road to Obama’s place, no more than a quarter mile away from where she stayed. The purpose was to present the President with a poster of Cindy bearing a signed plea to end the wars. The considerable armed force at the gate and the Secret Service officers would not even bring out the lowliest of staffers to receive the poster. Clearly the message from Obama was “Get lost, Cindy.” And we were quickly told to move a considerable distance down the road. At least in Crawford it had been possible to demonstrate at the checkpoint to the site – not so at Obama’s place. Thus, did Obama greet a mother whose son was lost in the wars, which he continues and enlarges by the day.
    http://original.antiwar.com/john-v-walsh/2009/09/03/barack-obama-to-cindy-sheehan-get-lost/
    I warned each and every one of you people about Obama. Were you so stupid as to not know what the marginalization and demonization of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich portended, and told us about the charade we are subjected to every four years?

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    Employ mercenaries or re-introduce the draft. Eric Prince is God`s gift to
    America, protecting her against the prospect of a new anti-war generation.
    His presence confirms that you`re dealing with wars of choice.

    Reply

  11. DonS says:

    Re-introduce the draft.
    Suddenly all the nuanced discussions of how to win Obama’s “good” war will be seen for what they are, gobbledygook of the military-biased security “experts”.
    Too bad Obama put his ego on the line in endorsing war; makes it harder to walk back. His actions bespeak “we do war”, “we repress civil liberties stateside”.

    Reply

  12. samuelburke says:

    Glenn Greenwald again…from the same salon.com article pasted above.
    “As became clear with Iraq, the ‘mere’ fact that a large majority of Americans oppose a war has little effect — none, actually — on whether the war will continue. Like so much of what happens in Washington, the National Security State and machinery of Endless War doesn’t need citizen support. It continues and strengthens itself without it. That’s because the most powerful factions in Washington — the permanent military and intelligence class, both public and private — would not permit an end to, or even a serious reduction of, America’s militarized character. It’s what they feed on. It’s the source of their wealth and power.”

    Reply

  13. samuelburke says:

    Writing in Salon, columnist Glenn Greenwald lays out the historical record:
    “There was a time, not all that long ago, when the U.S. pretended that it viewed war only as a “last resort,” something to be used only when absolutely necessary to defend the country against imminent threats. In reality, at least since the creation of the National Security State in the wake of World War II, war for the U.S. has been everything but a “last resort.” Constant war has been the normal state of affairs. In the 64 years since the end of WWII, we have started and fought far more wars and invaded and bombed more countries than any other nation in the world — not even counting the numerous wars fought by our clients and proxies. Those are just facts. History will have no choice but to view the U.S. — particularly in its late imperial stages — as a war-fighting state.”
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/09/03/afghanistan/index.html

    Reply

  14. Scott says:

    Of course, what Lieven omits to mention is the
    rather glaring fact that, before the IRA fully
    embraced the political process, they first had to be
    convinced that they could not not defeat the British
    Army.
    A process that took some 30 years.
    So whether Dr. Lieven realises it or not, he *is* in
    the ‘stay the course’ camp.

    Reply

  15. Suzy Orman says:

    I’m not to the point of wanting to further expose the staffer. I want the abuse corrected – and this kind of thing being done on the Committee to cease. At this point, I am not going to name the staffer. Other media may choose to do that but it doesn’t get the problem solved.

    Reply

  16. TonyForesta says:

    Echoing that predatorclass patron Greenspan, Ameridca’s misadventure and bloody costly horrorshow in Afghanistan, like Iraq is “all about the oil” Our only strategic reason for plotting thousand of troops in uniform and unknown unknown tons of hardware, and more contractors than we have troops is to secure an oil corridor by passing the Caucasus and benefiting the oil and energy oligarchs exclusively.
    If the Afghanistan escapade is about hunting, capturing and killing al Quaeda and Taliban, – we don’t need our people in uniform and massive tonnage of hardware. We need predators, reapers, Air power, and INTELLIGENCE, people who look, speek, and act like jihadi’s who will infiltrate their cells, targets their assets and operatives, and blow them off the face of the earth from above.
    Afghanistan is being manipulated in the same way Iraq was manipulated, and sold and bruted as one thing, while the predatorclass and the powersthatbe have entirely different much more singular interests in mind.
    Why waste our soldiers in Afghanistan?? What it the point, what will define victory, at what cost, and as always – how does it end?
    Entertain these questions in depth, and Afghanistan a grotesque waste of blood, treasure, and resources.

    Reply

  17. Kathlleen Grasso Andersen says:

    OutragedAmerican….Let’s not freak Mom out, then…so I’ll hear from you soon then…used to be able to link to a name here and send an email to a fellow poster.

    Reply

  18. Outraged American says:

    Giraldi on Sibel Edmonds- on air now. Your chance to ask
    questions!
    800 259 9231
    http://whatreallyhappened.com/

    Reply

  19. Outraged American says:

    Kathleen: the first part of my post got eaten. My mom would
    interpret a hug from you as a lesbian advance and try to sue
    you.
    My brother got them cable, a truly tragic mistake, and they
    started watching Fox “News” and it really changed them. They
    really were great people, now they live in fear of everything from
    swine flu to homosexuals.
    These are people who grew up in India and Pakistan, which was
    then India. They’ve lived through a lot.
    They taught their kids to be tolerant, but are not tolerant
    themselves anymore. Which is why I went back into the media.
    The power of propaganda, such as Fox News, is incredible and it
    kills a lot of people.
    A study done three years ago estimated deaths in Iraq caused by
    our latest invasion to be 1.2 million.
    I just invite anyone who wants war to go shoot their neighbor’s
    kid and see how she or he feels afterwards.

    Reply

  20. Outraged American says:

    My parents went from being people with incredible life
    experiences, a genuine kindness, and an insatiable love of
    cultura and the arts to Dittoheads. Tragic.
    From Rimsky-Korsakov to O’Reilly.
    Kathleen, I’m going to send Steve an email asking him to forward
    my email address to you.
    Giraldi on Sibel Edmonds! Call in. Here’s your chance.
    WhatReallyHappened.com 5 PM Central TODAY. In less than half
    an hour!
    You can also talk to Giraldi about his article on AIPAC at
    antiwar.com today.
    I’m repeating myself, as I tend to do.
    The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy
    http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2009/09/02/the-best-
    congress-aipac-can-buy/

    Reply

  21. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    OutragedAmerican…a Californicator???You should go West young lady…then we could invite POA too…we could have a “Bring Your Pwn Axe to Grind” powow.
    Give your Mom a hug!!

    Reply

  22. Outraged American says:

    National Priorities Project has a new Afghanistan fact sheet.
    Very informative about the cost of war, in all senses, in
    Afghanistan.
    http://tinyurl.com/nqo3d2
    Kathleen, you’ve become ferocious in your youth. You go
    grrrlfriend.
    When are you coming back to Arizona? I am seeing my mother
    tomorrow and will ask her when she saw the Snake Dance.
    She’s brain-damaged from a stroke (note to self: never have a
    stroke) but she does remember a lot.
    Reminder: Philip Giraldi talking about Sibel Edmonds, TODAY 5
    PM Central streaming at WhatReallyHappened.com
    Call in!
    Here’s a Giraldi article from today’s antiwar.com
    The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy
    http://tinyurl.com/kkuwc9

    Reply

  23. JohnH says:

    The warmongers would like nothing more than to pursue a binary debate on Afghanistan. Heads they win, tails they win. If Obama withdraws, they accuse him of surrender. In their preferred case, he stays and they continue to sell vast amounts of military supplies in a futile effort. In their wildness dreams, they might even get to pin a defeat on him.
    Obama is responsible for this. Like George Will, he should be asking, “what’s the point of it all?”
    The fact that Obama cannot answer, of even ask that question shows how utterly bankrupt the adventure in Afghanistan has been. And there will never be enough money for health care unless the waste, fraud, abuse and misguided adventures cease ASAP.
    The American people need to know that there are clear choices to be made, and the merchants of death or doing their best to preclude anything but more sales of military supplies.

    Reply

  24. Kathlee Grasso Andersen says:

    Well I am sure our war on Afghanistan does not make sense. We paid OBL and his 40 thieves to go to Afghqanistan in the first place and create the Taliban to fight against Russia.
    It’s only when you consider the oil pipeline in Afghanistan and needing troops to protect the pipeline route, that the “war” in Afghanistan makes sense as a justification for Uncle Sam keeping the world safe for Exxon-Mobile.
    If we were looking for OBL we should have held onto his relatives until someone coughed him up.

    Reply

  25. Outraged American says:

    From the National Priorities Project: an Afghanistan Fact Sheet.
    Source: Icasualties at http://icasualties.org
    NPP’s Cost of War Counter See NPP’s Afghanistan Cost of War
    Counter (http://www.costofwar.com/) and calculate the cost of
    the war to your state (and in many cases your city or town).
    Additional Resources
    Civilian Casualties the Human Rights Unit of United Nations
    Assistance Mission to Afghanistan publishes an Annual Report
    on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan,
    which is updated every six months. Their website is
    http://unama.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1816
    Additional casualty data, plus Background information on
    Afghanistan can be found in The Cost of War in Afghanistan,
    published jointly by NPP and the American Friends Service
    Committee. It can be found at:
    http://www.nationalpriorities.org/auxiliary/costofwar/cost_of_w
    ar_afghanistan.pdf

    Reply

  26. ... says:

    ben quote “I’m not sure whether our war in Afghanistan makes sense at all…” i don’t think it ever has.. it makes sense only in so far as it perpetuates a war machine and a country that has come to be defined as a military industrial complex in cahoots with a banking system run amok.. looking for any other type of logic in this seems mostly to be a waste of time…

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *