The madness of a futile military mission is reflected in the madness of a deranged soldier slaughtering innocent civilians near Kandahar. In the wake of this incident and the recent burning of the Qur’an at Bagram air base, any hope of winning hearts and minds is gone.
Pressure is building for a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops. This is necessary and appropriate, but greater attention must be paid to the peace process. President Obama said we need to withdraw responsibly. Precisely, but what does that mean?
Here are some options:
- Suspend combat operations and urge insurgents to join in a general ceasefire, as a necessary confidence building measure to facilitate negotiations.
- Announce a timetable for U.S. military withdrawal linked to progress in political negotiations.
- Prioritize support for negotiations to achieve a political settlement and power-sharing agreement within Afghanistan.
- Turn over authority for managing the political transition to the United Nations and support a third party peacebuilding mission and peacekeeping force.
- Encourage dialogue and peacebuilding efforts within Afghan civil society, and ensure that women have a seat at the table in political discussions about the country’s future.
- Sustain funding for social development programs that have expanded educational opportunity, access to health care and community economic development for the Afghan people, especially women and children.