Buckle up. Talking with the Taliban won't be easy.
The Taliban announcement that it would open an office in Qatar is a first step toward talks. But history shows that negotiated withdrawals are often designed to test the patience of the departing Army.
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Should the US be negotiating with the Taliban at all?
But Fauzia Kofi, a liberal Afghan parliamentarian, told the Washington Post that talks with the Taliban could actually undermine much of the progress made during the past 10 years to create a democratic Afghanistan.Skip to next paragraph
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“History is repeating itself. This may result in bringing the Taliban back to power. None of our achievements have been systematic, and they can all collapse at any time.”
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the US government supports a political solution to the Afghan conflict and would play a supporting role in talks between the Karzai government and the Taliban.
“We have a policy here based on three principles: fight, talk, build,” she said according to the Afghan newspaper Khaama Press.
Setting up an office is the first step toward having talks, Ms. Nuland added.
“We’ve seen in many other conflict situations that you have to have a political address if you’re going to begin a political conversation. The Afghans themselves have said they are frustrated that the Taliban do not have a political address.”
Talks are risky, and failed talks can be fatal to a political career during a US political campaign.
The Vietnam example
Take the Vietnam war for example: In the midst of the war, the Johnson administration agreed to a cease-fire to allow peace talks with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese government in Paris.
Those talks failed in the final hours before the 1968 US presidential elections, and Democrats accused the Republican candidate, Richard Nixon, of sabotage, sending emissaries to Paris to encourage them to hold out for a better deal with a Republican administration. The rumors were never proved, and in any case, after President Nixon took office in January 1969, no investigation was held. Still the it haunted him throughout his term.
The Paris Peace talks ended with a cease-fire agreement on Jan. 27, 1973 – and with Nobel Peace Prizes for Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho – but fighting continued until the final US evacuation from Saigon on April 29, 1975.
Among the 135,000 Vietnamese who fled to the US after the fall of Saigon were many former South Vietnamese political and military officials.
Perhaps liberal lawmakers like the Afghan parliamentarian, Fauzia Kofi, has reason to worry.
IN PICTURES: Afghanistan in winter