Talking to the Taliban

Finally David Miliband has broken with his US mentors and stated that there can be no military solution to the "insurgencies" in Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas.  This marks a major policy shift between the two allies, the US backing non engagement with the enemy and the UK now seeming to support constructive engagement . As he states"Supporting democracy means supporting principles not personalities, institutions not individuals,"

 Any theory of conflict resolution starts with the premise that it is important to build dialogue, whether this is back channel dialogue or direct negotiation, it is also imperative to build civil society institutions. The British government realised there was no military solution to the Northern Ireland conflict and started to talk to the IRA leadership.  The IRA realised that they couldn't bomb their way into a united Ireland.That was the start of building peace in Northern Ireland.

 Anyone looking at the history of Afghanistan will note that the British failed to make it part of the British Empire in the 19th Century, and the Soviets lost thousands in their misadventure in the 1980s. A miliatry solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, in difficult mountain terraine is unlikely. However  immediate withdrawal leaving the Afghans to another 30 years of civil war or a Taiban lead government would be cruel. So negotiation is the only way forward.

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