If the War in Afghanistan were a person it would be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election.
Starting with George W. Bush, three different presidents have struggled to achieve a victory in Afghanistan, but 18 years later little progress has been made.
On Aug. 12, the United States and the Taliban finished their eighth round of negotiations to come to a peace agreement, and possibly provide the U.S. with an exit strategy. Critical to the Taliban is an agreement that the U.S. will permanently withdraw troops from the nation while the Americans have sought to secure an agreement that the Taliban will not allow any foreign armed groups or fighters to launch attacks on outside targets from within the country.
WGBH News Analyst Charlie Sennott said that the United States is in a precarious situation. According to Sennott, the Taliban may have the upper hand. With the war in a stalemate, the United States risks expending more resources to maintain their presence of 14,000 troops in the nation. At stake is the stability of the country and whether the current Afghan government will agree to any deal struck between the U.S. and Taliban.
“They need to talk to the Taliban directly for sure, but if they fail to factor in the existing Afghan government and a political solution between the Taliban and this existing government in Afghanistan ... this deal is going to blow up,” Sennott said during an interview with Boston Public Radio on Monday.
Diplomats with experience in the region are wary of the deal. Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat and United Nations deputy special representative for Afghanistan, said that several obstacles including sectarian violence, the disapproval of the Afghan government and a renewal of Taliban attacks could bring an end to negotiations. Others have expressed concern that in the current round of negotiations, the United States has not sought a commitment from the Taliban to allow women equal opportunities in Afghan civil and political life. Negotiators have said they plan to raise the issue in future talks.
On Aug. 2, NBC News reported that five administration and military officials said President Donald Trump planned to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the 2020 election. Sennott believes that Trump’s decision displays the relative weakness in the United States’ negotiating power with the Taliban.
“The side that measures time in the longest increments is the one that will win and of course the Taliban has all the time in the world,” Sennott said. “The United States is going to have to recognize that, and it’s going to have to move forward."