The Afghan Government has to negotiate with the Taliban

It is becoming increasingly obvious that pouring more soldiers into Afghanistan is not the solution to Afghanistan's conflict. At some point the Afghan government will have to negotiate with parts of the Taliban if it is to survive when NATO forces do finally concede defeat. Is it better that negotiations begin soon or should the Karzai wait to try to gain more victories on the ground and restore its legitimacy that, at least in western eyes, it lost in the farcical election.

The Afghan Government has to negotiate with the Taliban

Yes because... No because...

Victory through force alone is impossible

Rarely, particularly in a situation involving an insurgency, are wars resolved through force alone. There are numerous examples where wars have continued for years or even decades before insurgents are brought into the political mainstream, costing numerous lives. For example the Northern Ireland conflict continued for decades between the British Army and the often unseen IRA, costing thousands of lives. In the end though, the conflict was resolved and peace restored through dialogue and bringing former IRA members into the political mainstream.

The discussion on the possibility of dialogue with the Taliban this week is not a new idea. Over two years ago in fact, Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered talks with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. [[http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21045198/]] The war in Afghanistan has continued for 8 years at the cost of the lives of hundreds of British and coalition soldiers along with hundreds of thousands of Afghan lives. Surely the negotiations should begin now, reducing the number of lives to be lost unnecessarily in the future.

The Afghan Government has to negotiate with the Taliban

Yes because... No because...

Afghan history shows foreign failings

Despite the regular statements by the British and American leadership that the war in Afghanistan is making progress and is winnable, history suggests otherwise. In fact the only outcome for foreign forces has been an eventual withdrawal to avoid humiliating defeat. As the current campaign continues, it seems increasingly unlikely that this attempt to create a modern democracy in Afghanistan will suffer a similar fate. The Taliban have home advantage in that they know the rough and mountainous terrain in a way that for all of their hi-tech equipment are unable to match.

What could be the difference with this campaign would be if political dialogue were used to help in the resolution of the conflict. According to a speech by David Milliband this week, several former members of the Taliban are now sitting in the Afghan parliament. If this campaign is to avoid the same fate of those that have gone previously, far more negotiation between the Afghan Government, coalition forces and the insurgency is necessary.

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