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Some scholars argue that the US and NATO troops should leave Afghanistan and an increased focus should be on the political solutions instead of on military solutions. The war in Afghanistan thus won't be won military; it can only be settled through politics (Bacevich, 2008). By looking at the Intervention/ Reconstruction/ Withdrawal model, suggested by Miall, will be outlined what the most successful strategy will be to normalize the country. It will do so by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of a complete withdrawal of the western troops from the country.
The first phase suggested by Miall is termed intervention, which has to deal with the difficulty of making a trade off between preventing the conflict to turn into a war and to already start working on the goals of phase two, the political stability requirements of reconstruction. There are several factors that determine whether an intervention becomes successful or not and then there are also different intervention types. When looking at Afghanistan is this seen as a "defensive intervention and regime-change in order to pre-empt perceived threats to national and international peace and security" (Miall, p.191). This type of intervention, however, is perceived as a highly challenging one since the perceived legitimacy of the intervention among the host population is very low. Especially in Afghanistan can one see that there is still and ongoing war after the formal military victory was achieved, this continued fighting is one of the major features in hindering the reconstructing phase of Afghanistan, something that will be outlined more into dept.
Namely, in the reconstruction phase can there three major features be distinguished that hinder peacekeepers in their reconstruction process. First are there the surviving undefeated conflictants that want to continue conflict to achieve their pre-existing political goals. Secondly are there the huge costs of war and of rebuilding the country and thirdly, there are still enemies of the reconstruction process that are seeing the interveners as combatants, which is clearly the case in Afghanistan. Namely, the Taliban is still fighting against the intervening forces and are purposely hindering the reconstruction process. Additionally, the stability phase of the reconstruction process is reached when the domestic political situation is safe enough to hand over the power to the host government so that the first stage of international withdrawal of military forces can begin. One of the crucial elements of this phase is that it is only reached when the reconstituted national forces are under the direct control of the host government and significantly more powerful than the undemobilized forces. However, when looking at Afghanistan can it be stated that this stage is not yet reached since although the power is officially handed over to the Afghan government, the situation is nevertheless still too volatile to have a complete withdrawal of the US and NATO forces. Another important element in this phase is that the official economy should be operating at a sufficient level to provide enough revenue for the host government to provide essential services to its people. The Afghan government, however, is still very much dependent on the international aid, which is reducing the legitimacy of the government moreover since the government is also perceived as being highly corrupt.
Finally, the withdrawal process has to occur slowly and starts already once the political situation is safe enough in the hands of the host government. In this phase there is a military withdrawal. The second withdrawal process can only start when the normalization phase is finished. This entails social and cultural peace building is established through, for example, an electoral democracy and declaratory instruments to ensure minority rights. Only when this is established can there be a social and cultural withdrawal. Consequently would the most successful strategy to achieve this normalization entail following the track of the different phases. And one should try not to intervene, reconstruct and withdraw at the same to, since this will surely not lead to a normalized situation in the country.
Thus, the withdrawal of the troops in Afghanistan is clearly not in line with Miall's theory. Since, as already previously outlined, is Afghanistan still in the process of reconstruction through stabilizing for example local Afghan troops. Nevertheless is the intervention stage not completely finished since the US and NATO forces are still fighting against the Taliban, and this is significantly hindering the reconstruction process. A withdrawal of the troops at this stage would thus most likely lead to a fall back of Afghanistan to where it was before the intervention in 2001. A complete withdrawal, however, does not have to be necessarily bad when the Afghan forces are strong enough to deter combatant actors like the Taliban. Moreover could this more likely lead to cooperation with the Taliban, since it clearly refuses to cooperate with the intervention forces. Notwithstanding, in alignment with Miall's model is it not wise to already start withdrawing when it is clear that the reconstruction is not even finished and that the current Afghan forces do not have enough strength to provide security for the Afghan people.
"History has taught us that peacekeepers and peacebuilders are inseparable partners in complex operations: while peacebuilders may not be able to function without the peacekeepers' support, the peacekeepers have no exit without the peacebuilders' work."
Peacekeepers and peacebuilders are thus two crucial parties in creating a self-sustaining peace. Currently, however, as indicated by General de Kruif are these two forces not cooperating very well. This is due to the different aims of the US and NATO peacekeeping forces and the ISAF peacebuilding forces. Thus, if these two parties would fall both under the command of the UN, do I foresee a much better cooperation and consequently a much greater efficiency of both parties that would surely make a better situation for the resolution of the conflict. Nevertheless, the Western troops are trained to use force and obviously are much better in combating enemies than improvised UN forces that are only allowed to use force in case of self-defence. On the other hand, a UN peacekeeping force would have more legitimacy to be perceived as objective peacekeeping forces than the Western 'imperialist intervention forces', due to their very limited degree of the use of force. Therefore would a UN intervention force most likely lead to less resistance among for example the Taliban and thus has a higher chance to resolve the conflict.
To clarify, peacekeeping forces have the 'negative' task of ending continuing violence and preventing the conflict to turn into a war whereas peacebuilders have a more 'positive' task of constructing a self sustaining peace in the particular country. Furthermore, peacekeeping is essential and relevant at three escalation points. The first point is to contain violence and to prevent it to turn into a war, secondly, to limit the intensity, duration and geographical spread of a war at the point when it has broken out. And thirdly is it crucial for peacekeeping forces to consolidate a ceasefire and to create a space for peacebuilders to be able to start reconstruction after the war has ended.
There are three generations of UN peacekeeping troops, the first generation was mostly active during the Cold War and these missions were usually composed of lightly and badly armed troops from small and neutral UN member states. Moreover were these troops only deployed when there was consent among all the UN member states. The troops had the possibility to use force, but only as a means to self-defence since they were not provided with a mandate from the UN Charter. The second generation of peacekeeping forces started operating in the 1990s and more parties and other actors were included in these peacekeeping operations, which gave the operations a multilateral and multidimensional character. Furthermore did hundreds of nations participate in the peacekeeping missions that led to a multicultural character. The third generation of peacekeeping mission started in the late 1990s and these peacekeeping forces were more robustly equipped to enforce according to the Charter 7 mandate. These third generation peacekeeping forces are thus best suitable to replace the US and NATO troops, since these forces have the right to use force. Moreover is the key of this third generation of peacekeeping to combine this robustness with international norms of human security, which gives it a lot of credibility.
Thus, a replacement of the Western Troops by a third generation UN peacekeeping force that is allowed to use force and takes into consideration the international norms can be a very good way to come to a resolution of the conflict. However, this peacekeeping force must take into consideration the will of the local population and must thus not like the Western Troops simply want to replicate Afghanistan into a western state. If this is being taken into consideration, then a UN peacekeeping force in Afghanistan can be a very suitable solution for the problem.
A lot of scholars argue for a negotiated settlement with all the various actors involved in the conflict in Afghanistan. According to them the conflict can only be solved through politics, and by collaborating with the local leaders and by rewriting the constitution with the help of the Taliban can a successful resolution of the conflict be reached. So this part will look at the circumstances of a successful negotiated settlement what the likeliness of success will be of a negotiation with all the various actors in Afghanistan.
It must firstly be noted that conflict resolution is much broader than conflict termination and to make it even more complicated is the relationship between the resolving of a conflict and the ending of violent conflict not a direct one. Namely, the root causes of a conflict may be still persistent whereas both a war and a peace settlement have already been completed, something which can be clearly seen in Afghanistan. Thus, as the case of Afghanistan is making clear is that it is possible that efforts to resolve a conflict do end a war, but do not end the underlying conflict. A conflict is thus over when "a new political dispensation prevails, or the parties become reconciled, or a new conflict eclipses first" (Miall, p. 161). Thus, it is very difficult to achieve a reconciliation of a conflict due to many factors, consequently will now be elaborated upon the successful circumstances. Ergo, there are five 'generic transformers' that determine under which circumstances a conflict resolution will be successful. First, there is the context transformation which entails that conflicts are embedded in a social, regional and international context, and must thus be resolved at the relevant level. Secondly, structural transformation states that if the root cause of the conflict lies within the structure of the relationship, then this structure has to be transformed to achieve a solution. Actor transformation entails that actors have to redefine their directions and modify their cherished goals to adapt a different perspective, then if this does not work is a change of actor justified. The fourth transformer, issue transformation, is very similar to the previous one and includes that when actors change their position, they will transform the conflict. Finally, personal and group transformation means that a conflict can be resolved by offering, for example, reconciliation to an opponent. Another crucial element in a successful settlement is that it should not only bridge the gap between the opposing parties, but that it should also be well crafted and precise. Thirdly should it be able to offer a balance between commitment and a way out, it has to ensure that parties stay committed and are being offered mediation or even, when necessary, renegotiation. Furthermore should a successful settlement deal with the core issues in the conflict that are relevant to both parties and to provide them with political space. Last but not least should the settlement be in alignment with the international standards of human rights and justice and should all individuals and groups be respected. Finally must it be mentioned that every conflict has sceptics and spoilers. Sceptics are those who reject only part of the settlement whereas spoilers are fundamentally against any agreement. Consequently should sceptics be managed by making incentives to include their wishes in the agreement and should spoilers be marginalized and undermined so that they will not have any more power on the outcome of the settlement. Then, if all these criteria are met, then a settlement can be regarded as successful.
The likeliness of success in Afghanistan is dependent on many factors. Some scholars would argue that an international intervention in general has a tendency to increase the duration of civil wars and is thus doomed to fail to reach a successful negotiated settlement. Whereas other would claim that third parties are essential catalysts to create successful negotiated settlements, especially the UN's legitimacy is able to play a crucial role in setting out a successful conflict settlement. Furthermore is it stated by Miall that due to the economic destruction of war are societies more likely to face a war again. This statement can be confirmed when looking at Afghanistan, namely, this country has been in continuous war for the last fifty years. It has suffered enormously from civil wars, the Soviet occupation and the Taliban regime. Notwithstanding are there a lot of groups in Afghanistan who benefit directly from the violence and in addition is there a large group of Taliban fighters that become dependent of warfare as a way of life, they are not able to live without it since they have known nothing different. A lot of Afghan warlords are dependent on the economic resources and thus do not want to give those up, other leaders know that if they are being overthrown they will certainly face prosecution or even death and thus will remain true to their cause. Other local leaders fear the loss of their career and status when peace is established and thus refuse peace for their own interests. This has lead to the situation in which a lot of Afghans are both mentally and economically dependent on a state of war. Consequently should be looked at the intentions of the various actors to determine if they are sceptics or spoilers and should thereupon be dealt with appropriately. Nevertheless does the war in Afghanistan impose massive costs on a different but very large part of the population and accordingly will they all significantly benefit when the continuing conflict will come to an end. So, fortunately is there a great willingness for peace, something that is confirmed by General de Kruif, who stresses the fact that the local population finds it very hard to see the Dutch forces leave in Uruzgan since they saw them as their only hope for peace.
Concluding can it be stated that there are a lot of factors that determine the likeliness of success, many of these factors have been met in the case of Afghanistan but a negotiated settlement with all the various actors remains difficult to achieve. And although the majority of the people favour a successful settlement are there still many sceptics and spoilers that try to hinder this process. A political solution is thus very well possible, if one takes into consideration all the outlined criteria.
It can be stated that a democracy is, in theory, a political system that is superior to all others. Based on this notion is there the belief that a democracy is the only political system that is able to heal a divided country and that is able to help countries like Afghanistan to settle after a civil war. The international community thus beliefs that a democracy is the only acceptable political system that will work for all countries under all circumstances. This is shown in the fact that in all the international interventions since the 1990s, an enforced democracy was imposed on the intervened states.
Likewise, Afghanistan was also forced to adopt a democratic system regardless of looking at existing conditions and the citizens' preference. The country was quickly put through the formal steps of a democracy and had its first elections in 2004, whereas there was hardly any stability in the country. This corresponds with the idea of Ottoway that Afghanistan can not be called a democracy just because it held elections, namely these elections are just a tip of the iceberg of an artificial process in which Afghanistan remains strongly dependent on the international community. That is to say, according to Ottoway can a democracy only be developed in well-established states that have authority over their entire territory. And secondly does a democracy also require a population that is not deeply fragmented due to different ethnicities. Unfortunately is neither of these characteristics common in the feudal state of Afghanistan, since among the deeply divided population do the Taliban and the many warlords still have an enormous influence in many parts of the country.
It has been proven that coercive democratization does not offer a quick solution for post-conflict countries like Afghanistan. Thus, instead of enforcing a democracy that is doomed to fail is it wiser for the intervening forces to encourage the Afghan people to opt for solutions that are bringing the country together and that give the Afghan government more control over its territory.
There have been ongoing conflicts going on in Afghanistan for more than fifty years and this has evidently created various actors that are corrupt, do not respect basic human rights and only strife for their own economic welfare. In 2001 western forces started to invade the country with the aim of countering the terrorists, but also to bring peace and stability to the people. Achieving these aims has been proved to be more difficult than originally expected since the intervening forces have the negative task to end the continuing violence and bring stability and the positive task of constructing justice and reconciliation for the people.
In the case of Afghanistan has it thus been proved that these two aims are incompatible. This is mainly due to the fact that it is very hard for the western forces to negotiate with these delinquent actors. Of course is this understandable since the primary aim that justified the intervention in Afghanistan in the first place was to destroy these indictable actors and not to negotiate with them. However, it appears to be the case that it is inevitable that we do have to negotiate with these actors and to deal with their norms and values in order to clear the ground to be able to build a shared Afghanistan. It is thus necessary to build a relationship with these actors and negotiate with them in order to stop the long term violence that will bring peace since the approach being taken now clearly does not work. Moreover will this rebuilding of the social relations between the various actors release the tension of reconciliation and can we consequently move together with the various actors towards a new Afghanistan that is gender-equal and corruption free.