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How the U.S. Institute of Peace Avoids Peace in Afghanistan

By David Swanson

Four years ago, I wrote this after a meeting at the U.S. Institute of Peace:

“The president of USIP Nancy Lindborg had an odd response when I suggested that inviting Senator Tom Cotton to come speak at USIP on the need for a longer war on Afghanistan was a problem. She said USIP had to please Congress. OK, fine. Then she added that she believed there was room to disagree about exactly how we were going to make peace in Afghanistan, that there was more than one possible path to peace. Of course I didn’t think ‘we’ were going to make peace in Afghanistan, I wanted ‘us’ to get out of there and allow Afghans to start working on that problem. But I asked Lindborg if one of her possible paths to peace was through war. She asked me to define war. I said that war was the use of the U.S. military to kill people. She said that ‘non-combat troops’ could be the answer. (I note that for all their non-combatting, people still just burned to death in a hospital.)”

On Thursday, September 19, 2019, I received an email from Mick, Lauren E CIV SIGAR CCR (USA), who wrote:

“At 11:00AM EST, Special Inspector General John F. Sopko will unveil SIGAR’s latest lessons learned report – “Reintegration of Ex-Combatants: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan” – at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. The event will feature remarks from Inspector General Sopko, followed by a panel discussion. This report is the first independent, public U.S. government report examining this topic. Watch a live webcast of the event here: https://www.usip.org/events/reintegrating-taliban-fighters-afghanistan

“Key Points
“– The reintegration of former fighters will be necessary for sustainable peace, and one of the most pressing challenges facing Afghan society, the government, and the economy.

“– If the Afghan government and Taliban reach a peace agreement, an estimated 60,000 full-time Taliban fighters and some 90,000 seasonal fighters may seek to return to civilian life.

“– The current environment of ongoing conflict in Afghanistan is not conducive to a successful reintegration program.

“– The absence of a comprehensive political settlement or peace agreement was a key factor in the failure of prior Afghan reintegration programs that targeted Taliban fighters.

“– The United States should not support a reintegration program unless the Afghan government and the Taliban agree to terms for the reintegration of former fighters.

“– Even today, the U.S. government has no lead agency or office for issues concerning the reintegration of ex-combatants. In Afghanistan, this has contributed to a lack of clarity about reintegration goals and their relation to reconciliation. . . .

“Inspector General Sopko’s remarks note

“– ‘As long as the Taliban insurgency continues, the U.S. should not support a comprehensive program to reintegrate former fighters, because of the difficulty in vetting, protecting, and tracking former fighters.’”

Notice anything funny?

The United States is supposed to have a “lead agency” and support or not support particular programs to reintegrate Afghans into Afghanistan after the coming of peace.

So peace is not supposed to involve the departure of the United States.

But, of course, that means there won’t actually be peace.

And, “The current environment of ongoing conflict in Afghanistan is not conducive to a successful reintegration program.” Really? The past 18 years of U.S. occupation has not been conducive to reestablishing a society free of U.S. occupation?

This is the sort of utter nonsense generated by having a bunch of people fully dedicated to U.S. wars tasked with doing stuff they call peace.

Oh, by the way, the United States just reintegrated a whole bunch of Afghans with a drone strike. How much more U.S.-led reintegration can one place be expected to withstand?

Here’s an idea promised by the last U.S. president, campaigned on by the current U.S. president, and advocated by several Democratic presidential candidates: Get the fuck out!

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Published Date: Thursday, September 19th, 2019 | 10:01 AM

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