Afghan peace talks: Viet Nam redux

Those who were alive at the time of the Paris Peace Talks in 1971 should be getting a sense of deja vu as the US negotiates with the Taliban so it can withdraw its combat forces.

BBC:

The US is engaged in talks with the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said, in the first high-level confirmation of US involvement.

Mr Karzai said that "foreign military and especially the US itself" were involved in peace talks with the group.

Hours later, suicide bombers attacked a Kabul police station, killing nine.

Earlier this month, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said there could be political talks with the Taliban by the end of this year.

The US is due to start withdrawing its 97,000 troops from Afghanistan in July.

It aims to gradually hand over all security operations to Afghan security forces by 2014.

[...]

The BBC's Paul Wood in Kabul says the attack is part of the Taliban strategy to strike at the heart of government.

Paradoxically, he says, the greater the likelihood of peace talks, the more Nato and the Taliban will press their military campaigns in a bid to ensure they go into negotiations with an advantage.

From the summer of '71 through November, 1972, the US and North Vietnamese tried to negotiate an "honorable" peace so that Nixon could withdraw the rest of American combat forces before the 1972 election. Every encouraging development at the conference table was met with an attack by the North Vietnamese as they sought to conquer as much territory in the south before an agreement was reached.

No doubt the Taliban are trying something similar here. While the US offensive will kill a lot of Taliban, holding that ground is going to be a problem. The enemy has already moved back in to some areas that we've already cleared, and more of that can be expected until the Afghan police and army are sufficiently well trained to resist them.

There are differences with Viet Nam, of course. But the similarities are eerie enough that it gives one the feeling that history may be repeating itself.



Those who were alive at the time of the Paris Peace Talks in 1971 should be getting a sense of deja vu as the US negotiates with the Taliban so it can withdraw its combat forces.

BBC:

The US is engaged in talks with the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said, in the first high-level confirmation of US involvement.

Mr Karzai said that "foreign military and especially the US itself" were involved in peace talks with the group.

Hours later, suicide bombers attacked a Kabul police station, killing nine.

Earlier this month, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said there could be political talks with the Taliban by the end of this year.

The US is due to start withdrawing its 97,000 troops from Afghanistan in July.

It aims to gradually hand over all security operations to Afghan security forces by 2014.

[...]

The BBC's Paul Wood in Kabul says the attack is part of the Taliban strategy to strike at the heart of government.

Paradoxically, he says, the greater the likelihood of peace talks, the more Nato and the Taliban will press their military campaigns in a bid to ensure they go into negotiations with an advantage.

From the summer of '71 through November, 1972, the US and North Vietnamese tried to negotiate an "honorable" peace so that Nixon could withdraw the rest of American combat forces before the 1972 election. Every encouraging development at the conference table was met with an attack by the North Vietnamese as they sought to conquer as much territory in the south before an agreement was reached.

No doubt the Taliban are trying something similar here. While the US offensive will kill a lot of Taliban, holding that ground is going to be a problem. The enemy has already moved back in to some areas that we've already cleared, and more of that can be expected until the Afghan police and army are sufficiently well trained to resist them.

There are differences with Viet Nam, of course. But the similarities are eerie enough that it gives one the feeling that history may be repeating itself.



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