Afghanistan at Peace or Afghanistan in Pieces – Part One: The First Phase

Available Downloads

In fairness, Secretary Pompeo made it clear when he announced the first steps towards a peace agreement that, “the United States has secured separate commitments from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to hold negotiations for peace.” He made no reference to a full peace plan with any major details. Currently, however, far too much of the coverage given to his announcement has focused on the conditions which allowed the start of such negotiations – as if they provided a coherent plan for the future.

As has been noted in a previous Burke Chair analysis, far too many of the steps proposed to date are reminiscent of the U.S. failures in Vietnam. They ignore the current state of Afghan forces, the lack of unity within the Afghan government, Afghan dependence on outside aid, massive problems within the Afghan economy, and the quality of Afghan governance. This previous analysis, entitled, Afghanistan: “Peace” as the Vietnamization of a U.S. Withdrawal?, is available on the CSIS website here.

Most of the media’s reaction to the announcement of a peace process agreement ignores a wide range of these issues and has only focused on the immediate military implications of the agreement to enter negotiations. This commentary focuses on the three critical limits in the official reporting and media coverage of these military developments:

  1. Underestimating the real size of U.S. forces in (and for) Afghanistan.

  2. Ignoring the critical role of forward train and assist forces and airpower.

  3. Failing to examine the importance of the role played by our allies.

This report entitled, Afghanistan at Peace or Afghanistan in Pieces – Part One: The First Phase, is available for download here.

Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He has served as a consultant on Afghanistan to the United States Department of Defense and the United States Department of State.