Left to right: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper prepare to speak in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 29, 2020, regarding a joint declaration that could result in all foreign troops leaving Afghanistan within 14 months.
Photo by NATO
Editor’s Note: This story is the first of a recurring weekly column written by Promethean editor Jean Germano.
From the cold shores of Vladivostok to the sun-drenched beaches of Miami, governments across the world continue to institute shutdowns and quarantines in response to COVID-19. China and the United States are caught up in a propaganda war that exchanges accusations of blame, incompetence, and responsibility regarding the global pandemic.
The sheer waterfall of information being pumped out on a singular issue can be overwhelming, as even local news outlets are obligated to bring up other nations in their discussions about an issue that has disrupted global supply chains and originated from abroad. While we’re at it, how about the recent flurry of missiles launched by North Korea, or India’s targeting of Muslims? Before the wall-to-wall coverage of COVID-19, didn’t the United States sign a peace deal with the Taliban? For that matter, wasn’t World War III about to happen at the start of this year? It’s simply overwhelming.
The objective of “Dìyuán Politika” is to bring up examples and terminology of geopolitical affairs and make them digestible for your average layperson while also providing a glimpse at interesting instances in geopolitical affairs. We live in a globalized and interconnected world and often our ability to understand what else may be happening outside of our perspectives as Americans is confined by preconceived notions, memes, and curated narratives.
Take the case of the US peace treaty with the Taliban mentioned earlier. The barebones of it that was discussed in public dialogue, at least before getting drowned out by the threat of coronavirus, was that on Feb. 29,after on-and-off negotiations over the years, the United States government and the Taliban signed a peace agreement that set an 18-month deadline for US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Soon afterwards, the Taliban launched an offensive against the US-backed Afghan government in Kabul. The Afghan government started protesting key agreements made in the treaty that placed obligations on them that they had not been informed on. And then, the news cycle moved on.
To address this, we must talk about peacemaking. Peacemaking is a bit of terminology that is deceptive in how it says it all on the tin; the process of resolving a conflict and establishing peace.
One essential bit missing from that assumption is that the conflict can be resolved sustainably by establishing power relationships that conflicting parties can agree to in order to avoid future disagreements.
Who are these parties? On the surface, there are three in this case: the internationally recognized Afghan government based in Kabul, NATO’s Resolute Support Mission spearheaded by the United States, and the Taliban. Each of these parties, as we’ll explore next column, are driven by objectives and constituencies that have given rise to a meme about how stability in Afghanistan is an impossibility.