Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: Afghanistan deserves peace after long war

Filed on August 17, 2021

Biden spoke to a domestic audience while the Taliban went global with their performance.

The Taliban have emerged victorious on two fronts in Afghanistan — on the battlefield and in the media. US President Joe Biden could take lessons from the way they carried out their military campaign and dealt with the media at their first press conference on Tuesday. In other words, he was schooled by the group.Biden’s experience of being a foreign policy specialist failed him when it mattered the most on Monday when he spoke to journalists.

A monologue from a veteran leader came as a shock; no questions taken, and he rightly got plenty of bad press even from the liberals he represents. The president appeared stubborn as he defended the indefensible, dash out of Afghanistan without a Plan B. His A team’s calculations had gone awry, yet he was afraid to admit it and now finds his legacy in tatters. He succeeded in making the Taliban look heroic, and they grabbed the opportunity when it was presented to them on Tuesday in front of the world’s cameras.

They fielded the media’s questions with aplomb.

Biden spoke to a domestic audience while the Taliban went global with their performance. The victor soaking up in the attention, while the vanquished slunk into the shadows at home. The humiliation was complete for the leader of a superpower. While the Taliban promised no retribution and spoke of forgiveness, many wondered if they had indeed changed their spots. They even addressed thorny issues like women’s rights in what could be termed a cordial interaction with the media. The dominant theme of the press conference was peace, and that should come a relief for millions of Afghans who lived through decades of strife; those who lost their homes and loved ones in what looked like endless war. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was confident as he took questions and an interpreter translated from Pashto to English for a global audience. He sought the world’s support as the country attempts to rebuild after the American experiment became mired in corruption. They backed the wrong people to build institutions and showed little appetite for the long haul. More importantly, America was an unreliable partner in progress.

But history reminds us that it is harder to make peace than to wage war. The focus will now be on the Taliban after their successful first media performance. They have made the right noises on governance. Since then there has been some shift in perception as the group’s leaders make their way back to the country to set up a government. “No harm will be done,” said the spokesman who spoke of Afghanistan for the Afghans. Twenty years of war and occupation were not the answer for the country. What other choice do they have but peace?

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