Expert Voices

U.S.-India missile defense strategy could threaten Afghan peace process

Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan arrives in Kabul on February 11, 2019.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in Kabul, Feb. 11. Photo: Sylvie Lanteaume/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. is ostentatiously promoting cooperation with India on ballistic missile defense, highlighting it in the 2019 Missile Defense Review as a “key element” of its Indo-Pacific strategy.

Why it matters: Pakistan is certain to see any such cooperation as a move against its nuclear force. Even though ballistic missile defense systems have nothing to do with the battlefield in Afghanistan, where the low-tech Taliban has forced the U.S. to the table, the move could threaten the U.S.-Taliban withdrawal negotiations by spurring Pakistan to reinforce its support for the group.

Expert Voices

U.S.–Taliban talks a needed first step toward peace in Afghanistan

Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Reports of a tentative understanding between U.S. and Taliban negotiators in Qatar last week sparked strong, disparate reactions. Some say the U.S. is negotiating its surrender in Afghanistan and selling out its Afghan allies, while others see the first steps toward ending the world’s deadliest conflict.

Reality check: To stop the fighting, the U.S. and the Taliban must hold formal talks; to bring stable peace to Afghanistan, the Taliban and Afghan power-players opposing them must do so as well. That the former has happened first doesn’t inherently constitute a betrayal.

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