Afghanistan Weekly Reader: Perspectives on the Peace Process

The announcement that the Taliban will open a political office in Qatar in exchange for the release of Taliban officials from Guantanamo Bay has been alternately hailed as a dramatic breakthough and criticized as a surrender. Whatever the spin, this development indicates that the process for a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan is moving forward. Unfortunately, U.S. military involvement in the region is far from over and strong support still remains for maintaining troop levels through 2014 and after.  Although U.S. troops are expected to shift to an advisory role over the next year, peace negotiations are progressing slowly as the cost of war continues to increase.

From ASG
Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan But Stay Engaged
Afghanistan Study Group by Mary Kaszynski

Bringing the troops home is not retreat, and it is not abandonment. It is simply the first step towards a more effective Afghanistan policy and a smarter, more responsible defense budget.

US army’s new Afghan nightmare – how to ship $30bn of kit
The Guardian by Jon Boone
The US army has begun the massive task of withdrawing $30bn (£19bn) worth of military equipment from Afghanistan three years before most Nato troops leave, with logisticians warning of complications from the lack of decent roads and the nightmarish geography of a landlocked country surrounded by states that are either fickle American allies or outright enemies.

A long goodbye to Afghanistan
LA Times by Doyle MacManus
The Afghanistan withdrawal won’t be anywhere near as final as the one we just saw [in Iraq]. U.S. military leaders are working on a new slimmed-down strategy that would keep some American troops in combat against the Taliban for years to come, long after 2014.

Military Advice and Policy Decisions
National Interest by Paul Pillar
If General Allen understands his mission to be stabilization of Afghanistan and the continuation in power of the Afghan government of the day, he should provide his best advice as to what forces are needed to accomplish that mission. And if whoever is the U.S. president in 2014 determines that accomplishing that mission is not sufficiently critical to U.S. interests to warrant extending a U.S. military expedition that would have already gone on for thirteen years, he should overrule the general’s advice.

2011 Reflections: What happened to the US debate on Afghanistan?
CS Monitor by Ben Arnoldy
Should the war run for three more Christmases? That question can be answered in various ways. But as someone who has just returned to the US, I simply want it to be asked here.
As I enjoy the peace of this holiday season, so removed from the conflict zone I recently experienced, I remind myself that we should spare a few thoughts for those who won’t be home for the holidays – and consider why exactly that is.

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