Recent news reports on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan have raised the possibility of future direct talks with the Taliban aimed at reaching a peace accord and allowing for the withdrawal of American troops from the war-torn country. Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the conflict has since become America’s longest active military operation in history.

While members of the Afghan government have raised objections about such a scenario, Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria said the approach is a sound one.

“The United States is spending $45 billion a year on security and economic aid for Afghanistan.” — Fareed Zakaria

Taliban Role in Power Sharing

“The central reality that Washington must come to grips with is that it will have to allow the Taliban a more formal role in power-sharing,” Zakaria says in his Aug. 2 commentary.

Early in his presidency, Zakaria says, Donald Trump followed his “tough guy” instincts and increased the number of troops in Afghanistan. Trump said at the time, “These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide.”

Now Trump’s advisers appear to recognize a different strategy is required, Zakaria says.

“Our presence distorts U.S. foreign policy, tying significant resources to an area of limited national interest,” Zakaria notes. “The United States is spending $45 billion a year on security and economic aid for Afghanistan. That’s more than double Afghanistan’s entire gross domestic product .”

Painstaking Work of Diplomacy

Though the Trump administration is on the right path, Zakaria says, the way forward will be a challenge to navigate.

“This is the difficult, painstaking work of diplomacy that the Trump administration has tried to ignore, demean and defund. But if the president actually wants to extricate America from its unending wars, it’s the only way out.”

You can read Zakaria’s full commentary, “It’s time to get out of Afghanistan. Here’s how” at The Washington Post.

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