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Negotiating Afghanistan When With Whom About What

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Journal Article

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National Defense University Fort Lesley J. McNair United States

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Under the George W. Bush administration, negotiations were not included in the strategic mix of dealing with Afghanistan or, for that matter, Iraq. One can only conjecture about reasons. They may have included a sense that a military victory was possible a belief that talk about negotiations was in itself a sign of weakness that should notand could notbe conveyed to the opponent full-blown distrust of the Taliban a need to have a better balance of forces and more success behind us before we took on the task a hope that a reintegration process, together with raising the military stakes, would be sufficient to win the day and a distrust of diplomats and politicians who might be expected to conduct the negotiationsa sense that all achieved with the expenditure of so much blood and treasure would be given away if diplomats and politicians were turned loose on the problem. While the administration policy of President Barack Obama regarding Afghanistan negotiations does not represent a radical departure from that of its predecessor, there has been greater openness to debate prospects and issues, and a sense that an unofficial effort at the proper time could have a useful and positive impact on the interest in negotiations as well as setting out the problems to be undertaken and overcome to achieve success in them.

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  • Government and Political Science

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