The Afghan Endgame

By Barry, John; Yousafzai, Sami et al. | Newsweek, July 12, 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Afghan Endgame


Barry, John, Yousafzai, Sami, Moreau, Ron, Newsweek


Byline: John Barry, Sami Yousafzai, And Ron Moreau

Most of the players in the region are already planning for it--except maybe the Taliban.

Almost as soon as President Obama announced that U.S. forces would start leaving Afghanistan in July 2011, a text message began zipping between Afghan insurgents' mobile phones. "Mubarak," it said--Arabic for congratulations. "If you are a believer, you will be a victor," the message continued, quoting the Quran. Then the kicker: "The enemy president is announcing a withdrawal of troops who will leave our country with their heads bowed." Jubilant fighters and commanders quickly forwarded it to everyone in their phones' address books. "In the long history of Afghan fighting, we know that when the enemy puts out a timetable, it means complete failure for them," says a former Taliban cabinet minister, asking not to be named for security reasons.

That was scarcely the signal Washington meant to send. On the contrary, the idea was merely to head off a revolt by antiwar Democrats in America and maybe to scare Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his friends into cleaning up their act. Obama said only when the U.S. withdrawal would start; he very carefully didn't say how big the troop reduction would be. But last December's announcement has set off an ongoing storm of frantic dealmaking and rumormongering throughout the region. Senior Taliban commanders confess they can't make sense of what's happening. Even as they denounce reports of covert talks from news sources such as The New York Times and Al-Jazeera, high-ranking insurgents have begun very cautiously admitting for the first time that peace negotiations are not totally out of the question. "The Taliban will decide about an option other than war when the time comes that would favor such a decision," says one senior Taliban provincial governor.

Washington is eager to make that happen--perhaps more eager than most Americans realize. "There was a major policy shift that went completely unreported in the last three months," a senior administration official tells NEWSWEEK, asking not to be named speaking on sensitive issues. "We're going to support Afghan-led reconciliation [with the Taliban]." U.S. officials have quietly dropped the Bush administration's resistance to talks with senior Taliban and are doing whatever they can to help Karzai open talks with the insurgents, although they still say any Taliban willing to negotiate must renounce violence, reject Al Qaeda, and accept the Afghan Constitution. (Some observers predict that those preconditions may eventually be fudged into goals.) One particular focus is the "1267 list," which was established in 1999 by the U.N.'s Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee. It takes its name from U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267. "There are 137 Taliban on the list," says the senior administration official. "It's a list of people who cannot travel, cannot have funds?.?.?.?We're taking a very hard look at the 1267 list right now, looking at it on a case-by-case basis. We've been doing it for months."

The abrupt removal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top U.S. officer in Afghanistan and his replacement by Gen. David Petraeus may--ironically--be a stroke of luck for Obama. Petraeus's success in Iraq has given him unmatched experience in the art of quietly making deals with insurgents. On Capitol Hill, Petraeus has the stature to sell virtually any shift in policy. And the uproar attending McChrystal's departure means that, as a NATO envoy in Washington says, asking not to be named on a touchy subject: "The need to do something more in Afghanistan is now firmly on the Washington agenda." That means persuading the Taliban to talk peace if at all possible, regardless of which side has the upper hand now. "Waiting for the perfect security situation is like having a baby," says another Western diplomat, likewise unwilling to be identified. "There's never a right time.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Afghan Endgame
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.