In major world news that has received very little attention within the US, Afghanistan President Karzai is preparing to pitch and execute a new peacemaking plan with the Taliban in his country. In an abrupt about face that comes in the wake of Yemen’s similar peacemaking plans with Al Qaeda, Karzai announced on BBC over the weekend that he is prepared to make disarmament deals with the Taliban. This just weeks after President Obama promised more troops for and military action in Afghanistan, to the great dismay of many citizens and commentators. Is this a split in policy?
The top NATO military commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, General McChrystal, seemed uneasy in his doublespeak about the shift in Afghan policy towards more peacemaking as it relates to the US troop buildup towards more warfare. In McChrystal’s own words, and keep in mind that he initiated the successful call for a troop surge:
As a soldier, my personal feeling is that there's been enough fighting. I believe that a political solution to all conflicts is the inevitable outcome. And it's the right outcome. I think any Afghans can play a role if they focus on the future, and not the past.
He was responding to a question regarding Taliban in government in saying “any Afghans.” President Obama has not even mentioned the efforts President Karzai has made in recent days to gather support for his peacemaking plans at the 70-party international conference in London Thursday, undermining both of their authorities, to say nothing of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. The US Undersecretary of State went as far as to say the troop surge and reconciliation were complimentary, dumbfounding peace experts.
In stark contrast to General McCrystal, President Karzai seems resolute in his pursuance of peace, if unsure as to how his allies and current foes will react. He even went so far as to call for “peace at any price,” a doctrine that has proven dangerous to hold fast historically. “We trust them [the Taliban] because we are in a relationship together,” he added. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went silent on the matter, and even the BBC changed the title of its report to Karzai being “moot” about peace prospects a day after the video interview was released.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown championed the idea of reconciliation with Taliban, saying the Afghan government can “bring over some people previously associated with the Taliban by the renunciation of violence, this would be of value to the peace process.” We would expect that such momentous changes, which if successful could bring home American soldiers and increase the lifespan of Afghanis considerably, would be heralded by domestic media. They have not been in the least.
American news channels as well as news distributors such as AP and Reuters have missed this major shift in policy on the part of the Afghan leadership, to the extent that it is hard to imagine that they did not purposefully ignore it, or were censored by the powers that be domestically. Instead, we have news about warlords being appointed, bombs going off and troops being rallied, making Iraq and Afghanistan wars indistinguishable insofar as news reporting about them is concerned. President Karzai’s new peacemaking approach to the Taliban would quicken the safe return of American soldiers and lead towards a better future for Afghanistan, but as far as US news is concerned it seems hardly a current event worth mentioning.