On March 18, the world was treated to the spectacle of Secretary of State sternly lecturing senior Chinese officials about the need for China to respect a “rules-based order.” The alternative, Blinken warned, is a world in which might makes right, and “that would be a far more violent and unstable world for all of .”
Blinken was clearly speaking from experience. Since the sanctions against many other countries, it has indeed made the world more deadly, violent and chaotic. When the UN Security Council refused to give its blessing to aggression against Iraq in 2003, President publicly said the UN would become “irrelevant.” He later appointed John Bolton as UN ambassador, a man who famously once said that, if the UN building in New York “lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”dispensed with the UN Charter and the rule of international law to invade Kosovo, and Iraq, and has used military force and unilateral economic
What an Afghan Peace Deal Could Look Like
But after two decades of unilateral negotiations for a ceasefire and political transition , relinquishing America’s monopoly as the sole mediator between the government and the Taliban.in which Washington has systematically ignored and violated international law, leaving widespread death, violence and chaos in its wake, may finally be coming full circle, at least in the case of . Secretary Blinken has taken the previously unthinkable step of calling on the United Nations to lead
So, after 20 years of war and lawlessness, is Washington finally ready to give the “rules-based order” a chance to prevail overunilateralism and “might makes right,” instead of just using it as a verbal cudgel to browbeat its enemies? President and Secretary Blinken seem to have chosen America’s endless as a test case, even as they resist rejoining Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran, jealously guard America’s openly-partisan role as the sole mediator between Israel and Palestine, maintain Donald Trump’s vicious economic sanctions, and continue the ’ systematic violations of international law against many other countries.
What’s Going on in Afghanistan?
In February 2020, the Trump administration signed an agreement with the Taliban to fully withdraw agreed to a one-week “reduction in violence.”and troops from by May 1, 2021. The Taliban had refused to negotiate with the -backed government in until the and withdrawal agreement was signed. But once that was done, the began peace talks in March 2020. Instead of agreeing to a full ceasefire during the talks, as the government wanted, the Taliban only
Eleven days later, as fighting continued between the Taliban and the wrongly claimed that the Taliban were violating the agreement they signed with the and relaunched its bombing campaign. Despite the fighting, the government and the Taliban managed to exchange prisoners and continue negotiations in Qatar, mediated by envoy , who had negotiated the withdrawal agreement with the Taliban. But the talks made slow progress and now seem to have reached an impasse., the
The coming of spring control at least half of . This prospect, combined with the May 1 withdrawal deadline for the remaining 3,500 and 7,000 other troops, prompted Blinken’s invitation to the UN to lead a more inclusive international peace process that will also involve India, Pakistan and the ’ traditional enemies: China, Russia and, most remarkably, Iran.usually brings an escalation in the war. Without a new ceasefire, a spring offensive would probably lead to more territorial gains for the Taliban, who already
This process began with a conference on in Moscow on March 18-19, which brought together a 16-member delegation from the government in and negotiators from the Taliban, along with and representatives from the other countries. The conference has laid the groundwork for a larger UN-led conference to be held in Istanbul in April to map out a framework for a ceasefire, a political transition and a power-sharing agreement between the government and the Taliban.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Jean Arnault to lead the negotiations for the United Nations. Arnault previously negotiated the end to the Guatemalan Civil War in the 1990s and the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016. He was also the secretary-general’s representative in Bolivia from the 2019 coup until a new election was held in 2020. Arnault also knows , having served in the UN Assistance Mission from 2002 to 2006.
If the Istanbul conference results in an agreement between the gains made by women over these years will be lost.government and the Taliban, troops could be home sometime in the coming months. Trump, who belatedly tried to make good on his promise to end that endless war, deserves credit for beginning a full withdrawal of troops from . But a withdrawal without a comprehensive peace plan would not have ended the conflict. The UN-led peace process should give the people of a much better chance of a peaceful future than if forces left with the two sides still at war, and reduce the chances that the
It took 17 years of war to bring the WikiLeaks and a stream of reports and investigations revealed that military and political leaders have known for a long time that they could not win. As General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of NATO forces , put it, the best that forces could do was to “muddle along.”to the negotiating table and another two-and-a-half years before it was ready to step back and let the UN take the lead in peace negotiations. For most of this time, the tried to maintain the illusion that it could eventually defeat the Taliban and “win” the war. But internal documents published by
What that meant in practice was dropping tens of thousands of bombs, day after day, year after year, and conducting thousands of night raids that, more often than not, killed, maimed or unjustly detained innocent civilians. The death toll is unknown. Most airstrikes and night raids take place in remote, mountainous areas where people have no contact with the UN human rights office in that investigates reports of civilian casualties. Fiona Frazer, the UN’s human rights chief , admitted to the BBC in 2019 that “more civilians are killed or injured due to armed conflict than anywhere else on Earth. … the published figures almost certainly do not reflect the true scale of harm.”
No serious mortality study has been conducted since the Truth Commission he oversaw in Guatemala, it reveals a death toll that is 10 or 20 times what we have been told.-led invasion in 2001. Initiating a full accounting for the human cost of this war should be an integral part of UN envoy Arnault’s job, and we should not be surprised if, like the
If Blinken’s diplomatic initiative succeeds in breaking this deadly cycle of “muddling along,” and brings even relative peace to, that will establish a precedent and an exemplary alternative to the seemingly endless violence and chaos of America’s post-9/11 wars in other countries. The has used military force and economic sanctions to destroy, isolate or punish an ever-growing list of countries around the world, but it no longer has the power to defeat, restabilize and integrate these countries into its neocolonial empire, as it did at the height of its power after the Second World War. America’s defeat in Vietnam was a historical turning point: the end of an age of Western military empires.
All the Belt and Road Initiative, but America’s leaders have no alternative development model to offer them. The people of Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela have only to look at , Iraq, Haiti, Libya or Somalia to see where the pied piper of American regime change would lead them.can achieve in the countries it is occupying or besieging today is to keep them in various states of poverty, violence and chaos — shattered fragments of empire adrift in the 21st-century world. military power and economic sanctions can temporarily prevent bombed or impoverished countries from fully recovering their sovereignty or benefiting from Chinese-led development projects like the
What’s This All About?
Humanity faces truly serious challenges in this century, from the mass extinction of the natural world to the destruction of the life-affirming climate that has been the vital backdrop of human history, while nuclear mushroom clouds still threaten all with civilization-ending destruction. It is a sign of hope that and Blinken are turning to legitimate, multilateral diplomacy in the case of , even if only because, after 20 years of war, they finally see diplomacy as a last resort.
But peace, diplomacy and international law should not be a last resort, to be tried only when Democrats and Republicans alike are finally forced to admit that no new form of force or coercion will work. Nor should they be a cynical way for American leaders to wash their hands of a thorny problem and offer it as a poisoned chalice for others to drink.
If the UN-led peace process Secretary Blinken has initiated succeeds andtroops finally come home, Americans should not forget about in the coming months and years. We should pay attention to what happens there and learn from it. And we should support generous contributions to the humanitarian and development aid that the people of will need for many years to come. This is how the international “rules-based system,” which leaders love to talk about but routinely violate, is supposed to work, with the UN fulfilling its responsibility for peacemaking and individual countries overcoming their differences to support it.
Maybe cooperation overcan even be a first step toward broader cooperation with China, Russia and Iran that will be essential if we are to solve the serious common challenges confronting all.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.
In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.
We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.
Support Fair Observer
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.
Will you support FO’s journalism?
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.