Small Wars Journal

OK. Talk to the Afghan Taliban—But What About? Where's This Supposed to Go?

OK. Talk to the Afghan Taliban—But What About? Where's This Supposed to Go? By Donald Bolduc – The Daily Beast

In recent weeks, reports have surfaced in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere that a senior State Department official, Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice Wells, has engaged in direct talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar. The State Department has confirmed only that she met in Doha with officials of the Qatar government. The Daily Beast also has reported on the months-long unofficial initiatives of retired U.S. Army Col. Chris Kolenda and Robin Raphel, a former U.S. ambassador, that helped open the way for these conversations.

But talks need to be based on a plan and lead to a conclusion, and it is far from clear that any firm decision has been made by the United States government about what that should be, and how it might be reached. The missteps in Afghanistan have been significant and while we tread water trying to figure out what happened, or where to go, we are wasting precious resources: 2018 must be the year of change in our policy, strategy, leadership, and approach or we will never get off this road we have been on for the past 17-plus years.

What’s required is a new group of thinkers to determine whether a complete military withdrawal or a return to the comprehensive strategy approach is viable or, alternatively, to depart from Afghanistan, or enter a truce with the Taliban.

We have three basic choices and we need to make them quickly…

Read on.