This article appeared in the February 04, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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War and the art of the exit

Omar Sobhani/AP
US troops patrolled at an Afghan national army base in Logar province in August 2018.

The Afghanistan peace framework emerging from US-Taliban talks has already generated its share of dark headlines. It calls for a cease-fire leading to US withdrawal, and includes a Taliban promise not to harbor terrorists. Veteran diplomats have invoked Saigon in 1975. The Senate rebuked the plan. But others see it differently.

Graeme Smith, who covered the war for years, writes movingly in the Globe and Mail about missed opportunities for peace in the past, and states “this is the best chance at peace that Afghanistan has witnessed in years.” Anand Gopal, author of one of the most powerful accounts of the war, “No Good Men Among the Living,” said in an interview over the weekend that “this is the most optimistic moment of the past 17 years,” with a US president serious about leaving and the Taliban serious about negotiating.

Mr. Gopal, who covered the war for the Monitor for several years, argues a withdrawal and some kind of settlement may not hold, but is a necessary step. “At some point there would be a settlement if external powers weren’t propping up certain parties,” he says.

Many concerns loom, including about gains in education and women’s status. But conflict has severely constrained progress in broad swaths of Afghanistan, something that could change with peace.

Gopal says these moves are going to face resistance from those “who offer no plan to end the war.” But, you “have to end the conflict. Ultimately you have to have peace.”

Now to our stories looking at the dynamics between commentator Ann Coulter and President Trump, the demise of the INF Treaty, and why, instead of ragging on the New England Patriots, their antagonists should study more closely what has made the Belichick/Brady duo so powerful over so many years.

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This article appeared in the February 04, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 02/04 edition