tv U.S. Institute of Peace on Military Role in Afghanistan CSPAN November 21, 2018 2:32pm-4:06pm EST
she's taken in the middle east. and sunday at 9:00 p.m. on "after words," pugh lilingtser prize-winning tourist on machine history 3. thursday on art art i macts. elebrating near jamestown in 1619. any reflections on former first lady, six eastern, how the pilgrims became part of america's fonesing stour. d sunday, constitutional ralars talk about how there's enthribble credible experiences. up next on c-span, a discussion on the u.s. military's role in afghanistan. we'll hear from the head of strategy and planning for the
u.s. central command, as well as former state department and pentagon officials who worked in afghanistan and pabs. from the u.s. institute of peace, this is about 90 minutes. we pursue our vision of a world without conflict by working on the ground with local partners to help prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict. usip has been working in
afghanistan since 2002. we have an office in kabul that's running a range of programs we also support policy-relevant research and hold of the record events, but also on the record events, like the one we have today, to inform policy makers and practitioners and the public about the situation in afghanistan. usip's current top priority in afghanistan is to support u.s. government and afghan efforts to achieve a politically negotiated end to the war in afghanistan. this 17-year war is now the longest war in u.s. history. let's not forget it's been going on for 40 years for afghans. i recently returned from afghanistan, and i have to say for the first time in many, many years, i came back with a glimmer of host: that there is a ossibility to reach a peaceful
collect. the stars seem to be aligning. but also this is going to be extremely difficult. i often describe it as a long shot, but i think it's really the only shot that i snow terms of thousand move forward in afghanistan. it's the only way to achieve our u.s. objective of an afghanistan that is at peace with itself, doesn't threat ton destabilize its neighbors, and doesn't once again become a safe haven for transnational terror groups that threaten the u.s. and our allies. again, this is going to be extremely difficult, and i've said this at previous gatherings like this and many of you have heard me say this before, there's lots of ground for skepticism about whether this is going to be possible to achieve. i worry that sometimes we get too skeptical that we view it as impossible and might miss the opportunity. so that's my request of all of you today and all of us working
on this issue. let's not be so skeptical of opportunities that we maybe miss them. i think there's mutual recognition for most stakeholders that there's no plausible military victory in site, either for the afghan government backed by the u.s. and our nato allies or for the taliban. general miller noted just a few weeks ago this is not going to be won militarily, this is going to a political solution. i think there's wide spread consensus that a precipitous withdrawal of most u.s. troops without a politically negotiated settlement would nearly inevitablely lead to a collapse of the afghan state and a return to the anarchist environment that gave birth to the taliban movement in the first place. i personally believe we are entering a pivotal time in afghanistan's history, which may shape the course of the country for a long time to come. supporting the afghan peace process is, therefore, a top priority for usip heading into
this next year, and we are boosting our capacity to support u.s. and afghan efforts to size this crucial moment. this includes working with the state department and ambassadors and his team in the office of the special representative for afghanistan reconciliation, as well as with our other u.s. interagency colleagues, including u.s. central command and the support mission in kabul. given this usip priority, we are very pleased to be hosting this event today. and to discuss some of the essential questions that we've posed to our panel of experts today. usip is pleased to be having a growing partnership with cent com, including on today's topic of afghan peace. we would also like to thank the strategic multilayer assessment program, which is partnered with usip to support the command. finally, i'm very pleased to introduce major general michael
policy. centcom's general langley could not be here in person, but if technology cooperates, he will provide opening remarks via live stream. general langley has a long and distinguished military career. prior to his current assignment, he served as deputy commanding general of the second marine expeditionary force and the commanding general for the second marine expeditionary brigade in north carolina. after general langley's remarks, my colleague will moderate a discussion with a very distinguished panel of afghan experts focusing again on the five questions that centcom has asked us to address today. with that, i turn it over to general langley. thanks for joining us at usip today. over to you. >> ladies and gentlemen, good morning. on behalf of the centcom commander, i'd like to say
thank you for putting this event together. first of all, some acknowledgment, one through the president of the u.s. institute want to also acknowledge the executive vice president, ambassador bill taylor, and the vice president, andrew wilder. especially acknowledgment to the strategic multilayer assessment office. good morning to all of you, and thank you for this opportunity to make opening remarks. also understand that johnny walsh and rusty barber, a critical piece of your team have put together an impressive panel today. a panel of experts to discuss the peace process in afghanistan. and i'd like to say, first and foremost, timing couldn't be better. and afghanistan, we watched the parliamentary election take
place last month, and we witnessed also the afghan forces and military operations to do what more than 100,000 nato troops are doing just a few years ago. however, we know that security situation in afghanistan still remains very challenging. but it's good to know that the teams from the u.s. institute of peace and the strategic multilayer assessments office are working to help us address these challenges. back in july, ambassador take scomplor his team bring the commander on the progress of their research to identify and understand the key components needed for the peace process. and also, in a related meeting with the commander, on that same day, the team from the strategic multilayer assessments office presented research on reconciliation and took away five key questions about the u.s. strategy towards the peace process.
encapsulated in some of those questions were to address changing key natural i can for a negotiated settlement. and the commander also asked for the groups to identify buffers of instabblingt that are essential to be addressed if we're going to impart upon a glide path to stability in afghanistan. so today understand that the u.s. institute of peace has put together a panel of experts with years of experience in afghanistan and the commander's questions that you're tasming are key for us, and we're glad to have those experts helping us think through this process. you general right a lot of interest here in centcom by the size of the audience there. it looks like you june rate a lot of interest in washington as well. the interest is well warranted. as you know, the forefront
syria has our attention. so does iran. so does the formation of government and the progress in iraq. and also, as an additive, a significant additive, the great powers competition of china and russia have recently taken center stage within our central region. however, let me be clear. afghanistan remains the center of our attention. we know victory will require a political reconciliation. we know that a conditions-based strategy is necessary. and we know that the taliban must engage in talks with the afghan government to reach a political settlement. however, for all the knowns, there are many unknowns. that's why this forum here today is so important.
centcom and senior leadership consider the afghan peace process a top priority. your expertise is greatly appreciated. once again, thank you for the panelists to participate today to inform us on our way forward in the peace process within afghanistan. over. >> thank you very much, general, and thank you to andrew for the introduction. i'm johnny walsh, a senior expert on afghanistan here the usip. in addition to everything that the general and andrew said about the desirability of a peace process as i would describe it as 9 plausible happy ending to this conflict and the only one that i can
see, i would just note the urgency of trying to find one. and something that's often lost in the growing conversation about afghanistan and washington is the sheer human toll that this cost is exacting. and we just saw a report in the "new york times" that as many as 25 afghan security forces a day on average are dying. there have been reports as many as 100 afghans together are dying every day t. is more difficult to measure the casualty count, but they're also stratospheric. that is to say, this isn't helping any side of the conflict. and it creates a special urgency to thoroughly decent people on each of the sides here who have the courage to really explore a better way to understand this. in particular, that goes for creptcom, and i'll say we exist
for the cause of peace, and we specifically exact to serve those as best we can who are directly charged with making it happen. and so with that, i'll introduce our really incredible panel. irst, via live stream from kabul, the director of the afghanistan research and evaluation unit. it's one of the most respected think tanks in afghanistan. she's also a research associate at the school of oriental and african studies in london. she served as an aider. she's an extraordinary intellect and member of the flourishing civil society that has really bloomed in afghanistan. to my left is laurel miller, senior political scientist at the rand corporation. she was formerly a deputy special representative for afghanistan and pakistan and an acting from 2013 to 2017.
she worked the peace process as intimate willing and thoroughly as anyone in government. she's also been an associate professor at georgetown. she's been a director for the western hemisphere at the national security council. honor to have her. vikram singh also was a deputy s wrap, especially in the era of richard holbrook. he recently joined us at usip as a senior expert on afghanistan. he's been a vice president at the center for american progress and was a deputy assistant secretary of defense for all of south and southeast asia so. also someone who's worked the peace process very closely over many years. and jason campbell led that portfolio at the office of secretary of defense until just a few months ago. he has returned to the rand corporation. i think we have the pleasure of one of his first public outings
since that became acceptable for him again after leaving government. so four very deep experts. now what we will do is we've centered this panel around five specific questions that we received from the command at centcom. we will tackle them as a group. i will then give the opportunity for our friends at centcom to ask the first follow-up question if they choose to, and then after that, hopefully we can have some discussion with the audience. good with everyone? so with that, the first question will go to -- how will the cease-fire and the other remarkable events in 2018 changed the potential for a negotiated settlement in afghanistan, and specifically, have prospects for a negotiated settlement improved? >> thank you. good morning, everyone.
it's a great pleasure to be connected from afghanistan where we are just about to end the day. to be teful to centcom part of this distinguished panel. to start, i hope you have my voices there. >> we do. >> excellent. something to your question, one point i'd like to make before an g to the cease-fire is opportunity that afghanistan delivered at this stage. for lesson learned that out in afghanistan. united states of america as one of the largest and most dedicated partners of afghanistan over the past 16
years. we need to really draw the ystems in order an able to foresee a sort of -- envision our presence and future. for that, it's really a critical situate and lessons are to be learned from the last 16 years. or example, if i can say, like he one of afghanistan. or if we have more of that nature, there's an important another -- institution. and with more systems rather han individuals.
and having a clear strategy, for example, or understanding of the economy. what are the economy forces? most importantly, that brings me to the cease-fire question pecifically. while we are there to draft, ry to end what was going on. this could be part of it, but also this needs to be political -- more the moist ways of dealing with the conflict. whether it's local, regional. so that's my sort of general point related to this.
the cease-fire in the 14 years of afghanistan, for me, in my life which has almost been in conflict, i can say it was the first time in this era of war that we have something very unique and more personal about it. -- if you could see the warring factions, the warring times the government side, they're framed together, and sharing it. so the reflection about the cease-fire are more reflections of emotions rather than introducing the strategy if i make the government or the
opposition. so both sides will be experimental sort of phase to see whether it is working or not. he messaging was very clear. to me, anyone who is not part of the government or part -- the message is very clear. as was mentioned earlier here, the message was that people in afghanistan, in the ground forces, whether these are the ones who are fighting under the flag of what we call taliban, they want peace. they want this to be over. but the challenge we are facing, and that brings me back to my lesson learned points that i'm facing is how we can really do it without having an
understanding of the differences, sort of dimensions i'll end flict, and by concluding this part by thinking that peace, if you want the call from every urban areas. r in at the same time, when having this demand for peace, clarity over what we mean by this is also critical. and that brings me to just up, y saying that i rush you know, which will just be an event. with some celebration is not going to -- nor is it going to
-- something that will last for too long. but that's how it ends. thank you again for your attention. >> thank you, orzala. i'll do this for each question, give the other members of the panel a chance to weigh in after the initial response that we get. and i would just observe that, in the question of references to the cease-fire, but also the other events of 2018. and i understand that to refer for those who aren't blessed to follow this every single day, that at the beginning of the year, the president made a quite forward-leaning offer of peace to the taliban, sort of an unconditional number of talks, in the weeks and months after that, there were a series of international conference that is shored up a great deal of regional and international support for this area, and there were a series of spontaneous peace demonstrations and a peace movement that broke out in virtually every part of afghanistan. that led to the cease-fire, incredibly emotional three days that orzala was taking about.
since then, we've seen a real flurry of diplomatic activity. not everything that one would want to see, but more than one season an average few months. anyway, i'll be interested if anyone else cares to weigh in, has this meaningfully change would the prospect of a negotiated settlement, and how so? i think you're on. >> is this on? >> i don't personally think that these events markedly change the prospects for peace, because i think the fundamental dynamics that have suggested that there is an opening for peace were there before these recent moves. i think it just elevated the ublic awareness of those dynamics, but i wanted to comment on one point related to the cease-fire. as an observer sitting here in washington, what i found to be most policy-relevant about the cease-fire was the way in which
it demonstrated the capacity of the cabble in particular to issue instructions and have them followed by the rank and file. but i think more interesting than that is there are some indications that elements of the taliban themselves recognize whether this was behind their -- originally part of their agreement in agreeing to the cease-fire i doubt, but seeing the reactions and how it unfolded, there are some elements that the taliban recognized that this hopefully demonstrated, proved in a limited way, i would say, their ability to issue instructions and have them followed. and that, therefore, it can be ed as a talking point on their own behalf in demonstrating their ability to follow through on any commitments that they might interview in a peace agreement,
whether it really demonstrates their ability to follow through in commitments is another question. i think it's much easier to issue instructions about a three-day cease-fire than it is to issue instructions and be sure it was followed about much more fundamental changes and decisions. but i think this that's an interesting factor. >> look, immed just say this is indicative of what almost every peace process is. you're going to have in any given year, particularly as you make progress, there are going to be things that frustratingly are setbacks. you know, it's going to be incremental. this isn't a lineal process where you draw a line and say, ok, we're going to make our way here, and at the end is peace. you're going to have instances where there are, you know, rays 6 sunlight, and you've got a cease-fire that kind of brings people together in a way that i would argue hadn't been in the post-taliban afghanistan. and you're going to have setbacks.
and i think probably the biggest driver of that is the complexity here. you have numerous constituencies, even within the afghan pro government camp. you have the taliban organization and all its various moving pieces. you have a region that is much more involved than it was even five or 10 years ago, and in many cases, in very different ways than they have been traditionally. so when you start to grasp all of the moving pieces here, i think it just stands to reason that you're going to have this, again, sometimes very frustrating, very incremental process, and you just try to, in the end, hope that it collectively gets us closer to some substantive talks. >> i wouldn't downplay the psychological impact of the cease-fire on all parties and then the political impact that it had. psychologically, orzala mentioned in her personal reaction to it, it's the first time that many afghans have
experienced a few moments of calm and peace and a lack of fear and a sense that this is possible. so it demonstrated that peace is possible in a way that we have not seen during the u.s. involvement in the war, and to a large degree, afghans have only rarely seen in the last hoe years. that in turn had a political impact. so within the afghan state, what you've seen is that all of afghanistan ace major political actors are essentially trying to articulate that they are the peace -- they are the peacemakers. they can help bring peace. everybody wants to be the one to bring peace. and for the taliban i think there was a -- you know, i think judging by their future reactions, their reluctance to do any follow-on, i think there was a and a desire to say they have
the ability to say to the afghan government or other afghan constituencies or the americans, or whoever, we can deliver on the ground. we showed that. to, unlessnot going we are comfortable with the direction this process is going. you can see that is also a political impact on the taliban side that has been very significant. side, the danger is that in the aftermath, the setbacks that we have, that starts to erode confidence and undermine the prospects for getting a process going. fundamentally, i think it is -- this moment changed dramatically because there was this window within the afghan society of all groups coming together for just a brief moment. mr. walsh: thank you all. i will go to the second question from centcom and i will take this one back to laurel. it is, what should be the relationship between reintegration and reconciliation?
and maybe you could define what those are understood to mean in the afghan context. does one or the other have to come first? does one drive the other? and what should be considered good enough on either,? -- good enough on either? finally, what is the application if centcom is focused on reintegration, but the rest of the u.s. government is focused on reconciliation? miss miller: thanks. i thought it might help at the outset if i clarified these concepts to some extent. both of these terms, reintegration and reconciliation, have been used with respect to afghanistan in ways that do not actually fit the common usage of the terms in connection with peace processes. and sometimes these terms have been used euphemistically in afghanistan, in ways that have created conceptual confusion. i think this is a problem that is more than semantic.
because when different people use the same words in different ways, and to mean different things, that can lead to some misapplication of the concepts in practice. so to begin with reintegration, dozen years or so in afghanistan, this has been used particularly by u.s. government actors to mean peeling away taliban fighters and figures. it has been used to mean a concept of essentially fracturing and degrading the taliban. yes, to accommodate individuals and groups who have chosen to participate in reintegration, but essentially the motivation behind reintegration programs and initiatives in afghanistan, as
supported by the united states and nato allies as well, has been to diminish the taliban and , and a way tol degrade the organization. it is not angly, mystery that this initiative to peel away fighters is an effort to fracture the organization. it has never worked to any meaningful degree that has any genuine impact on the security and ics in afghanistan, personally see no realistic prospect looking ahead that it will work. jason, and his remarks, my talk about that further. otherwise we could get into that in the question and answer if there is interest. now, if there is a negotiated therement in afghanistan,
will eventually be a need for something that is more like reintegration, in a way that term is more commonly used in respect to peace processes. and that would be the bringing together of fighters from both unified and more coherent security institutions. but for afghanistan, as compared to other contexts around the world, i think it is better to think of this kind of initiative in terms of unification or amalgamation of security elements, together with not asturing, reintegration per se, which suggests an absorption of the taliban into existing government and security structures in a way that doesn't fit the circumstances in afghanistan,
and i think would be rejected by things you ours -- rejected by those you are seeking to integrate. it is more realistic in afghanistan to think conceptually in terms of merger rather than i position, at least behow the concepts can framed and sold. the practical reality and its details may be something different, but if you approach it as part of the peace negotiation from an acquisition framework rather than a merger framework, i think it is a nonstarter. just to addant, another layer of complexity, to recognize that in areas where taliban exerts significant influence or control, and the state is largely absent, the taliban already are integrated into the local level, political and security fabric, and it is the government that isn't integrated.
again, it is the concept of reintegration suggesting a dominant theme, a minor theme isn't applicable in the afghanistan context. these contextual distinctions whatmportant, in part of kinds of experiences you might look to around the world for examples, and lessons learned the other peace processes, way in which reintegration mayesses have been crafted not apply in afghanistan. it doesn't mean there are no lessons to be learned at the thinkcal level, but i caution is warranted in trying to find reintegration models that might directly apply to afghanistan, as opposed to developing something that is more generous. how this idea of unification of forces could be achieved over
time in a post-settlement afghanistan deserves concerted landing as part of an overall consideration of -- concerted planning as part of an overall consideration of what afghanistan domestically could be, and what to do with fighters who either want to do or will need to be pushed into being full-time civilians in the future. we could get into some of these specifics in question and answer if there is interest. but turning to reconciliation, this term has mostly been used in u.s. policy to mean peace a synonym for peace process, negotiations that would lead to some kind of agreement. the term reconciliation has been flexibly ort more
broadly within afghanistan to encompass accommodations reached at the local level between opposing elements and also, to reference understandings that have been reached between the government primarilyn figures, political figures but not exclusively, who have left the movement, to suggest a normalizing of their status. talibanee references to figures who have reconciled, or been reconciled with the afghan government. for u.s. policy purposes, i would suggest situating the concept of reconciliation where it belongs, in terms of its more common usage with respect to peace processes. and that would be a long-term process of stitching up the social fabric that occurs,
hopefully, if at all, in the aftermath of a negotiated peace agreement, if we are fortunate enough to have that occur. that kind of long-term process of reconciliation can be encouraged and supported by outside actors to include the buted states, overwhelmingly it has to be driven by internal actors if it is going to have any genuine effect. and there is plenty of experience around the world with reconciliation processes to support that. it might be nice if reconciliation and a slow rolling form were a replacement for the hard work of negotiating a peace agreement.
work of thethe afghan high peace council or some other mechanism or a ,ottom-up peace movement violence could be reduced, arms laid down and an afghan social compact renegotiated, that would be a great thing. but i don't see any evidence from the many years of experience in afghanistan so far -- i don't mean my own experience, i mean u.s. policy experience with afghanistan and what we have seen develop their -- i don'top there think it's realistic to expect that kind of long-term reconciliation process to supplant a need for a negotiated peace agreement. ais is particularly so on timeline that would fit u.s. political realities. it isen aside from that, very difficult to see any evidence that those kind of
dynamics are in place in afghanistan. among a variety of limiting factors in that regard, mostly that have to do with internal situations in afghanistan, i think the hopes for an afghan reconciliation-driven peace the role that the u.s. military presence and the nato military presence in afghanistan lays, -- afghanistan plays, predominately in motivating the taliban an to continue -- in the taliban to can you fighting, but also those on the other side to continue the fighting as well because of a vested interest in the conflict. prudent to plan for a conflict resolution in afghanistan to follow the more usual if difficult course, which through tough negotiations, to make a deal the sufficiently satisfies
interests of the main actors and their constituencies, that have the capability to inflict andence in afghanistan, then work on reintegration and reconciliation in ways i have characterized them, as part of the implementation of the peace deal. it is not just experienced around the world -- just experience around the world, but also experience in afghanistan that shows reconciliation and reconciliation around the challenges of a deal, as has sometimes been seen, is not going to work. and in fact, it could be argued that reintegration as it has been conceived in the past in ofhanistan, and the rhetoric reconciliation, probably have been among the factors that have undermined efforts toward a negotiated settlement, because
those approaches have looked more like an invitation to the taliban to negotiate the terms of its surrender, then a willingness to negotiate compromises among interests. andrew: thank you very much -- mr. walsh: thank you very much, laurel. would anyone in washington or kabul care to add to that? ms. nemat: there are a lot that we haveties in terms of being optimistic about the reality of a real, negotiated peace settlement. one aspect again, going back to wheneintegration question,
we just appointed the interim integration, to go back to that experience. challengingost ,xperiences was the parliament and forgive me if the acronyms the largerat, but question we face here that is really important in this conversation to cover, is bringing the taliban and refraction of the taliban back is going toernment end the war. the clear message from the end thispulation is to
war. y intonot to bring x and because now, whether factioning yet another of this ongoing conflict for the last decade into the system, you would still have someone else there to keep fighting, or is it is going to end that story of insurgency and terrorism? definitely the office of our be, but ateeds to a negotiated is really something
that is a basic expectation. i will move to the third question from centcom will go to jason for. what catalyst could bring fragmentation within the taliban? jason: thank you, john a, and everyone for coming. it's great to see some many friendly faces in the audience. and the prospects of me opining on the afghan peace process until very recently, was behind-closed-door situation, so the next of the opportunity. expectationsper that given the current conditions in afghanistan, i don't foresee situation where there is one or a combination of efforts that is going to trigger fragmentation within the taliban. is much more likely scenario
that we are going to continue with this slow, uneven process andrying to get to talks, we will have to withstand setbacks along the way. that, comparatively speaking, the taliban and is likely the most cohesive entity in afghanistan, and that stands to reason. we see this in a lot of insurgencies. it is easier to sustain an insurgency then to develop weak among ant institutions people that are so divided. they can be opportunistic in deciding where to attack opportunities, or become more involved in local politics, so that stands to reason in many ways. are said, i think there within the taliban organization, mpsadly speaking, three ca
when you talk about the future of the organization. number one, you have the more pragmatic side that is willing to at least entertain discussions on a roll for the taliban in a stable political order in afghanistan. you have thosede more extremist in their views that are happy to continue the fight until all foreign forces are out of the country, and even until perhaps the taliban is again the dominant political actor in afghanistan. the third group are those that are, if not more reg maddock, then generally realistic in understanding that a stable going to have to both include the taliban but also many other players. generally benefit from the current state is cloven of --ity current state
the current state of instability in terms of aid they receive from outside actors, and are reluctant to take the risk to engage in political dialogue that would put these benefits at risk. what is less known and subject where thetion is various senior entities within the taliban fall among these three camps. and i think importantly, what we the u.s. and the coalition can do to either amplify those and/or tampices, down more extreme voices within the taliban. and i think that is the central issue we are dealing with. fundamentally when we talk about fomenting fragmentation within the taliban, you have a divide between being proactive and
reactive. i think being proactive aligns well with the u.s. and coalition military and government, tell me what to do, i will execute, at the end we will have the desired outcome. what i would caution though is being row active in fomenting fragmentation is extremely, extremely delicate. i think we have to be very careful about trying to socially engineer some level of fragmentation in an organization that is able to be so decentralized, and draw so much issueslegitimacy from that are in many cases very localized. it is also important to remember that identifying as pro-government or being neutral are no longer the only alternatives to being pro-taliban.
we have seen instances of disgruntled fighters, either formally siding or identifying with isis. if you are not very careful in how you proceed, it's not just about being pro-government or pro-taliban, there is now another element disgruntled fighters cannot for, and we could on dwindling late -- we could unwittingly push them in the wrong direction if we are not careful. amplify among trying to pragmatic voices in the taliban, being too overt in that effort risks alienating this cohort within their own organization. you have to be very careful about how you go about trying on an individual, or among a group, make them artificially a more prominent voice in an
organization. because again, within the taliban leadership writ large there is this need to have a balance between increasing your stature internationally, as we saw with their participation in moscow a couple of weeks ago, without spooking your low and mid level fighters into thinking your senior leadership, who is comfortably ensconced in qatar, is going to negotiate something that leaves them out. asm a reactive standpoint, laurel alluded to a little bit with the top-down peace process, and with just our train-and-advice mission, the focus is wisely on facilitating afghan efforts and better enabling afghans to address these problems.
with more local levels there might be opportunities to fighters anduntled some of their leaders and commanders, but we need to be cognizant for detail. if our adl of enticing them to orect from the taliban and at least become neutral actors rests on a defective surrender program whereby they are turning in weapons and in some ends since his posing for pictures, as we've seen in the past, i think we're going to be disappointed. -- theeeds to be warm ♪ needs to be more flexibility in engaging actors discreetly without having to formally keep themd at least from going the other way and siding with isis. if you prioritize reduction in , this becomes a concept
that is easier to accept. taliban messaging, there is no substitute for a message from the afghan political elite regarding some platform on what negotiations might look like, and what are red lines they would bring to a negotiation process. to that would be a rudimentary policy for dealing with opportunities where you have fighters who want to come therom fighting with taliban, and either become actors who are neutralized, or neutral actors, and just don't want to fight anymore. currently within the afghan bureaucracy, there is no policy for dealing with a group of we ares who say, interested in not fighting anymore, what are our options?
there simply isn't anything in place. this brings me to my broader point. it is very difficult to be proactive here if you don't yet have all the ingredients in placethere simply isn't anythinn place. , to simply be reactive when opportunities present themselves. yet inare just not there afghanistan, and that needs to be of greater priority in terms of the u.s. engaging with its afghan partners. for centcomm line is, number one, temper expectations. we are going into what is going to be a very contentious presidential election season. it is very difficult to sell those harming fighters you are neutralo turn or become actors, on the viable alternative that the afghan parliament is going to be responsive and he therefore you
-- responsive and be there for you, so we have to be cognizant of that. in kabul, the military has to coordinate with the state embassy,t, with the two more conservatively and constructively press the afghan political elite to have tough conversations they haven't yet, to build some sort of broad consensus on what they might be willing to live with, or at least bring to initial negotiations with the taliban, because those conversations have not occurred and need to. out in the field, i think needs to articulate to the train, advise and assist commands who are already carrying out challenging missions with limited personnel, need to articulate very carefully how they are expected
think, one, ato i better understanding of the local atmospherics, and what might be possible by reaching out and engaging disaffected sayanders, and i would also down at that level, that if this is the case, that the u.s. and coalition are willing to accept reduction in violence as i priority, and there is flexibility there for them to reach out to local fighters and cut some of the deals that have been going on for years in afghanistan. i remember in 2011, it was that in theedge sparsely populated areas they had cut deals with insurgent elements. if we are more open about the necessity to reduce violence in afghanistan, that opens more
opportunities to see progress. thank you, jason. in the interest of time i will go straight to the fourth question. all have ats will chance to launch broadsides against each other on any of these issues. the question is the regional one, how can we increase the resolve and capability of regional actors to advance afghan reconciliation, the search for a political settlement. in priority order, consider pakistan, china, russia, iran, india and saudi arabia briefly. and you want me to do that in three minutes? thanks. let's talk about the region. is --y ways afghanistan
ways, afghanistan's political and military and security woes stem from what afghan parties over the years, over the centuries, have made pacts, a pact with russia and the british empire, and you have had variations of the great game being played all along. most critically, everyone will point out what pakistan wants, how much does a peace process toter if pakistan is willing a part -- willing to be a party to the process and a supporter of any political outcomes? powers, pakistan have a majorrussia capacity to be significant spoilers.
that are lots of entities can be spoilers, from political parties within the country to the taliban to taliban factions, so all sorts of folks can be spoilers. always in peace processes, from the losers come the spoilers, so those who perceive they are losing have an interest in disrupting the process. so in afghanistan, the question is do they want a political settlement order they want to continue supporting the taliban , andther proxies instability that is compared to bad stability from a pakistani standpoint, i.e., a loss of indian influence, the loss of pakistan's role in the region, securityarly from in the region that would separate pakistan from its already insecure borderlands.
historically, groups having sway --t the afghani's interfaced that the afghani's interfaced , it's not great, a lot of pakistanis would like to fix that, but it is also what they know. and it is a system that, for all its flaws, is the only thing that really has any history or familiarity. i think the pakistanis have shown some interest. my feeling is, a political settlement that allows a taliban that the pakistanis know to return to positions of influence in the most critical border provinces in the south and east and a way that reassures the pakistanis that they sustain influence in those border regions, i think that is in the realm of something pakistan would support.
hasn't known is, where are the other major players in this? will the afghan government tolerate that or other afghan actors? the united states or other international communities that fought so hard in afghanistan support something like that? therest seven shifted in entire time this has been going on, and pakistan has been clear about what those interests are. the problem is that protecting them is -- protecting those interests as meant pakistan has been on the wrong side of a lot of bad actors in the region, and has diminished the goodwill, the willingness to find a way to a table that includes pakistan. there have been a lot of attempts. pakistanis supported one attempted set of peace talks. the pakistanis i think are ready . there release of a prisoner
recently was most likely a gesture, i don't know the details, but it seems to me they are ready to do something. iran similarly wants to maintain its traditional relationship inside iraq. there are huge concerns around the drug trade, and it has large concerns around economics. for china and russia you should also look to economics. one thing that makes it hard for americans to think about this region in a way that meshes our interests with the interests of everyone there, is the right now we are bearing the cost for the instability. is howey are looking for they reap the benefits of future instability. so they are looking at economic integration. they're looking at, do we improve our strategic position anda-vis our neighbor, onre the united states falls
that is largely unknown to a lot of players in the region. russia just held this moscow conference, and indicated, we want to get back in the game. there has been breathless speculation about how russia is playing a great game again. mohammed karzai has said we should throw our lot in with the russians rather than the americans, so there is always drama. i do think you have to look at the fundamental, strategic interests. if russia can give the americans a hard time by poking our eye in afghanistan and having his continued to expend blood and treasure in afghanistan, that is fine with them. the russianserm, would probably also benefit from stabilization in the region. certainly russia stands to benefit from investments in infrastructure, increases in transit and trade that would come from more chinese investment going through central asia.
the chinese have clearly made a big bet on the china-pakistan economic core door, and on the belt and road , toiative, and for them too be able to take advantage of a different political environment makes sense. .e didn't do the saudis i think with the saudis and the countries, it's much more a matter of influence. you can't take away current developments with saudi arabia, without that having an impact. right now i think it's a good moment for qatar. ,hey are hosting the only official politically-recognize presence of the taliban. are there for three or four days of discussions this week. and if the saudis are thinking they're going to get a piece of that, we went to be the center for engaging with the taliban
and use our historic relationship with pakistan to negotiate something here, i shink the space for the saudi is quickly strengthening -- is quickly shrinking. but they would like to have a wheren shaping pakistan and afghanistan go in the future. that pakistan relationship is extremely important to the saudis, but i think they are going to be fixated on more new-term concerns. but it's not really about the united states being able to get other countries to be more supportive. process, a a viable viable peace process underway, everyone of those regional players is going to want to have a role to play to protect its interests as that process
advances. what is incumbent upon us is to understand those interests, understanding what things might make those countries take negative ads in a future settlement and try to mitigate against those. and for the united states, to try to do well advancing u.s. interests, which remain basically what they have been for all these years. i could go into 10 minutes on each country, but roughly speaking that is a thumbnail. mr. walsh: thank you for that. we will go to the fifth and final question from centcom. panelist aive each and despite the largest of the question, to tackle it quickly. it is, is the u.s. current approach undermining the path to stability in afghanistan? tot are the obstacles
stability, and what u.s. government actions could be counterproductive to stability in afghanistan? inill go first to orzala kabul. the path to stability, i , getting approach finally after 15 years of being engaged in a war of terror,, peace andea of negotiation is positive. signere is a very positive
entirely but a positive sign getting closer to peace. russia is a major concern, so a high speed of getting something up is the goal. so our hope and expectation from our partners in the united states is to ensure there is a lasting, an approach that results into a lasting peace ush to than some r answer the demands of the global actors. in terms of what actions could be counterproductive, that brings back russia.
because for example, not having definition of how the piece is going to be , are we going to or recognize ddr, a state within a state for as expected by some of the parties involved? what is the settlement we are looking at? ,hese are critical questions and the largest question for the people afghanistan -- for the and thef afghanistan, role of women, where we are in the negotiation? , becauseput that here
from our partners in the united we need recognition that have in afghanistan managed to develop well in spite but tolenges we face, go back to the system just because of the interest of regional countries or groups, or one faction that is fighting, we should not compromise what has been achieved. this is the same way if you would like to learn lessons from fromiences in the past, our experience of how we could approach things different. , i think we general
are toward the right direction. however these things we need to consider again. mr. walsh: can i go to laurel next? ms. miller: in terms of what might be counterproductive, it is good the u.s. government now precedes a sense of urgency about negotiating a political settlement. but it would be distinctly counterproductive in my view is that urgency were converted into expediency. and if u.s. internal expectations are not properly theged to recognize that process of negotiating a peace agreement that has some realistic prospect of being implemented and enduring is going to be very hard.
about why, and what are some issues that will have to be negotiated, but i do not think there is an expedient solution here that also has a prospect of being implemented. there is a conceivable version of a peace agreement that might be negotiated quickly, and that a partial, or a thin agreement rather than a comprehensive agreement, one they put in place with an interim government, makes a commitment on the part of the u.s. and nato to drawdown forces , without which there will be no peace agreement, and then adopt principles and processes for dealing with everything else, either through that transitional government or through some other mechanism. that kind of approach would be a recipe for implementation failure and afghanistan.
an extremely high risk the process would become stuck in a transitional phase with no exit, other than a return to conflict. transitional governments in many experiences around the world and to be weak dysfunctional. i wouldn't expect that to be the case in afghanistan. so if too much burden was put on transitional mechanisms to sort out hard issues related to security, regional dynamics and , theterm political systems weight of it would be too much for a transitional government to bear, in particular once the attention that is focused on and the peace process fades, because one can declare an agreement was achieved. you could say the experience in
inhanistan, of the agreement 2001, that was an exception to this and that a transitional government without process, a road map, was put in place and adhered to. but conditions in afghanistan are different now. you are now in an area of -- now in an era of declining international commitment to afghanistan, not rising international commitment to afghanistan. thei would help international community would recognize the value of implementation, including financially. i don't think it is realistic to expect a repeat of the post-2001 history of not initially but eventually, a flood of international resources and and the u.n. mission at the scale it was, and the other international efforts there.
was an international guarantee, particularly a u.s. implementation of the roadmap that i would not afghanistan case in after a peace agreement that this state. see ans very risky to explicit model to follow once .gain in afghanistan that is not to say a comprehensive settlement couldn't be negotiated in stages. there is a need politically in the united states to show be done int could that fashion, where you agree in stages to a comprehensive then bent that could declared, but aren't really in effect until the whole agreement is concluded. and that would fit with experiences elsewhere in the world. but that is different than settling for a partial,
transitional agreement that fits into place principles and processes, but doesn't resolve hard issues that will have to be resolved. mr. walsh: thanks. approach, having an open commitment and now having appointed someone in charge of diplomacy, and apparently having the appointment of ambassador, marking a shift of u.s. attention being squarely on a potential pre-sponsors -- a potential peace process. that is something the united states is doing right, and in a way more comprehensive than what we have seen before. so making sure that is not just something that looks good, but something that is actually true, that basically a diplomatic effort to push for a peace process is enabled by negotiating team that is
supported by all the elements of u.s. national power, that is powerful and that means there is someone authoritative to talk to the taliban and afghan government to find where common ground is and bring various parties to the table. that also gives you the weight to bring the region to the table, which is going to be extremely important to any long-term success for the deal. there is a lot of risk of , or doing the type of agreement to declare victory to get out, which i think would be politically very attractive. i also think there is a lot of space put the effort into the long slog of what peace process is normally are. slog to gets a long to a peace process, it is a long slog to implement one. the majority of peace agreements
fail, in large part because there isn't the economic support and enforcement mechanisms for that agreement after it is inked. an unfortunate reality. it is very well documented. another mistake would be to continue the debate, is peace possible or not possible at all, simply to the process, and planning for implementation early. now, can we get this many dollars for afghanistan, can we support these programs, andstart looking at afghanistan that is trying to implement difficult peace agreements, and make them sustainable. we start getting commitments in advance to bolster that kind of an agreement. remember, losers become spoilers, so what about forget itis easy to
is not the afghan government, the taliban, the united states, and the neighbors. there are all sorts of society elements that also feel alienated from the government, and they need to be part of any settlement process. so the americans have an incredible negotiating team. what does the afghan negotiating team look like? how does it include different elements of afghan society, so they will have the highest possible legitimacy to carry forward this mission, including minority groups. it can't just be a government delegation that is only of the actual government it is going to have to have some way to tie in more broadly into afghan society. with theame goes taliban. we don't yet know if there is a credible afghan taliban and team that is in power. and that is going to be a necessary part.
i also would not want to negotiate with non-empowered confidences, so building measures become something that has to be done to some degree. i think there is value in getting quickly to the issues at hand. so what is power-sharing going to look like, what is security going to look like, what our social norms going to look like, is there a new constitutional process? to gettingatter their absent confidence-building that is a potential avenue of mistakes. andng a lot of effort putting it into something that doesn't have the potential to go anywhere. most peace process is probably have a 10% chance of succeeding.
it's not like you just decide, we are going to have peace and then we have it. ,uch like a military operation they don't survive first contact with the enemy, and that is true in general. the willingness to put the energy into a peace process should at least be commensurate with our energy for a military mission that has a low likelihood for success. i hope we can find the wherewithal to give this a real try. one of the most underappreciated elements of the strategy review was that for the first time you had unanimity across the u.s. interagency, that the top irt in afghanistan is the attainment of a political agreement that includes the taliban. and that is pretty profound, given our history since 9/11 in
the country. been the subject of a lot of debate within the interagency since then, is how to go about facilitating that. what vikram just said, the u.s. can do more to press the national unity andrnment, the opposition, keep elements of civil society, to have tough conversations and start being a little more articulate when it comes to them talking about what they might be willing to engage, if and when they talk to the taliban, and you fundamentally and sure -- fundamentally ensure their interests are accounted for in any negotiations.
mr. walsh: when we embarked on iis exercise for centcom, wasn't sure five questions could capture the range of considerations involved in such a complex peace process, and maybe they can't. i'm struck by how far the four of you ranged from these starting points. i want to give right of first refusal to our friends at centcom, for reactions or follow on questions that would be salient for the command or panelists. johnny.s, depart,langley had to he had to go to a briefing. numbergot in the room a of coalition and regional partners, plus our u.s. folks.
thank you for the insightful a lotts from the panel, of diverse, food for thought. about, are we undermining the process, we have reached the right approach after having tried every other approach to get to this point. i spent a lot of years in afghanistan out of the past 14 you cannot win a war in afghanistan with 150,000 foreign troops. it has to be an afghan-centric solution.
the cease-fire for the first time in 40 years, i think that is an important opportunity. on, whateverted happens in the peace process, is it a mortar or is it an acquisition that is that a is it a merger or is it an acquisition? in terms of a hostile i think it is important, are we looking at the taliban as a monolithic block? i saw this with the .econciliation last year
is that what taliban reconciliation looks like, when you have a pragmatic element that wants to reconcile in part because of economics? reconcile the hardline elements of the taliban leadershipany of the were fearful of their cohorts on the government side. there was a sort of carrot and stick element to reconciliation. is that whatn is, orce eventually looks like, does it look like pragmatic ,lements joining the government awaiting and on reconcilable element that will always be there? i think there is
almost no respect in which that model for reconciliation with the taliban, at the most general, conceptual level for some type of agreement. i would not call that an acquisition. i would call that a buyout of a spent force. perspective, it is completely unacceptable as a model because it looks like a , it looks like they sold their honor and dignity cheaply. and the agreement is just about and exchangehe hig for a nominal reconciliation that hasn't even been implemented very well, particularly related to
reintegration of the forces. it has been very difficult to implement or it so even in practical details, and has not been a particularly good example. like what iore described as what i would consider a very dangerous agreement for the united states to support, one that just sets up processes, mechanisms, for procedures, lots of committees set up not solving any issues, which for that agreement perhaps made sense, in that there were not any big issues that could be addressed in a way that would bring peace to afghanistan in a deal with ig, a little less so in the final version, but i also thought it was imbalanced from the afghan government perspective. it was proven
get other than it had to be run out at the end of the day statement against terrorism which he did not even really enthusiastically make. wasn't something -- the afghan government saw some benefit in. i do not personally see it as advancing the cause of peace are something i would look at as a model. there are some elements in which it has set a threshold you would at least have to meet or exceed in a deal with taliban in on some elements were you might not have wanted to like amnesty provisions for instance. how can you give less to the taliban and then you gave to the butcher of kabul? not to put too fine a point on it. thank you for that. we have one minute left. the likelihood of the deal that doesn't have some irreconcilable
forces out there is kind of zero. the question becomes enforcement mechanisms and in a deal that -- the problem with the fragmentation approaches you often end up with little monsters that are even worse than what you're trying to settle with the problem of decapitation, you often kill a senior leader will -- senior leader in something worse comes up behind it, less disciplined, westland, less control. there's a lot of risks to that. successful deal, that's enough of a critical mass in the deal that the parties to the deal are all parties to the enforcement of of the deal and that is to say the taliban will self enforce against any potential spoilers and drive them either over to isis or into isolation where you see how well those
guys do. but they would be party to enforcement of a deal. that suggests you have to get a certain level of deal, it has to be ultimately a political agreement to render what is ultimately a political war about how the afghan quality is invited and run. can't go to you for the final word? to the asked to explain the point involving the hague, making that compatible with anything that agreements is nothing to do with peace. and it's countering more of the
rhetoric produce more power politics than the way it happened in the way of splitting will in practice now in the was brought in general. the critical message i would like to see here is this conflicts has local regional and global, even resolution of the conflict is also becoming other conflict, if a i can say, there are multiple doctors now, trying to engage in taking the ownership of the peace that count. we have to watch out for that. and actually altering the same language and when we get to a more stable and
peaceful country in kabul for another night discussion about culture, history, and how we can our talk about this is a memory. thank you. thank you very does one less final word i will just say peace is possible in this conflicts, it's terrifically difficult in the process, and always has been, if it succeeds it will requires a really difficult trade-offs from every side the push every side believes and is just to the utmost. i think you and me can begin to see enough openness for this process on all and him will openness for this process on all sides that one can imagine where the men diagram overlaps and what a nexus or to look like they can address a resize interests. managers overwhelmingly popular in afghanistan by any measure it's possible to make great i would like to thank centcom for their interest in this issue to their amazing work on it and what -- more broadly for the united states and afghanistan. in many other countries later are social for an amazing panelists. please join me.
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