For a U.S. Role in Afghan Peace
To the Editor:
A Former Taliban Minister Senses a Growing Demand for Afghan Peace” (The Saturday Profile, Sept. 10), about Agha Jan Motasim, a former Taliban leader, reports that “an early attempt to seek reconciliation” between the Taliban and the Afghan government “through the governor of Kandahar was rejected, so the Taliban had no other choice but to fight.”
The passive voice (“was rejected”) conceals the fact that Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld vetoed a tentative agreement between President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban the day after the signing of the Bonn Accords in December 2001, which named Mr. Karzai president.
The New York Times reported that when Mr. Rumsfeld was asked about the emerging agreement, he answered, “I do not think there will be a negotiated end to the situation that’s unacceptable to the United States.”
But United States opposition to allowing the Taliban to surrender “in dignity” scotched any peace agreement and continued to do so until the Obama administration revised the policy in April 2010.
By then, however, those Taliban leaders who escaped capture and detention at Guantánamo had fled to Pakistan, where they directed an insurgency whose ambitions exceeded those they had in December 2001.
Full support by the United States will be needed for any agreement that may emerge in the years ahead as well.
BARNETT R. RUBIN
This letter to the editor was originally publised in The New York Times on September 16, 2016