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U.S. Supports Afghanistan Peace Talks, Expert Calls Exit “Messy”

Callie Schweitzer |
October 7, 2010 | 9:14 p.m. PDT


(Creative Commons)
(Creative Commons)
If there’s one thing analysts, pollsters and experts can agree on regarding the Afghanistan War, it’s that the United States’ exit will not be easy.

“Most civil wars end through negotiations, it’s very rare to have the North triumphing over the South quite as it did in the American Civil War,” CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said Wednesday on “Parker Spitzer.” “Most of the time you have some messy political outcome with a negotiation and particularly with the Taliban.” 

New reports are saying that the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai is in preliminary talks with Taliban representatives to negotiate an end to the war.

From the Washington Post:

On Thursday, Karzai will inaugurate the first meeting of the government's new "high peace council," a group of about 70 Afghans that is intended to form policy on how to pursue negotiations with the Taliban. [Afghan Taliban leader in Pakistan Mohammad] Omar said there will be "no backdoor negotiations" outside the work of this group because "we do not want to undermine the high peace council." 

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday the U.S. supports the conversations.

“This is not something that we do with the Taliban,” he said. “This is something that Afghans -- the Afghan government has to do with people in Afghanistan. And we have always been supportive of that reconciliation.”

Though Gibbs would not comment on the Washington Post report, he did outline U.S. policy on these kinds of negotiations, noting that the U.S. would not take part in direct talks. 

But experts on the region say peace talks are unlikely to move forward until the U.S. and NATO “gain an advantage on the battlefield.”

Eliot Spitzer, co-host of “Parker Spitzer,” noted the timing of the war’s ninth anniversary.

“We have not shown any military success,” he said. “The Taliban knows that politically, domestically, the American public has lost all confidence in this war.”

Indeed, public opinion of the war is shrinking. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 57 percent of those surveyed oppose the war.

Afghanistan dominated headlines Wednesday as people weighed in on whether there’s substance behind the talks:

The Independent: “That these talks, or talks about talks, are said to have the blessing of the US commander in the field, General David Petraeus, is another sign that the political part of an endgame might have begun. The general's appetite for talks has not been apparent in the four months since he took over the command. This, it seems, has changed.”

Christian Science Monitor: “[D]on’t throw the confetti for the war’s end yet. The road to reconciliation is as steep and rugged as the mountains where Taliban hide…[I]t would be a mistake for the American public to view these preliminary talks as a quick ticket home for US troops. Many challenges lie ahead.”

Fareed Zakaria on “Parker Spitzer”: “We can play whack a mole for a long time…This is one battlefield in a much broader War on Terror.”

The Guardian: “[T]oo much also is unknown – how far these talks have gone, and whether indeed they present a viable alternative to the Taliban strategy of waiting the Americans out. For there is a third and more potent enemy that the US faces. It is chaos, the inability to stick to one course of action and to bend competing actors to that end. The war could continue simply because its momentum is now unstoppable.”


To reach editor-in-chief Callie Schweitzer, click here.

To follow her on Twitter: @cschweitz

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