Afghanistan: The Reality Behind the Rhetoric

May 19, 2016 | 02:15 GMT
Afghanistan: The Reality Behind the Rhetoric
Facing domestic unrest, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has abstained from attending peace talks in Pakistan in hopes of winning greater public support.

International politics has two levels. The first is rhetoric -- speeches and handshakes, photo opportunities and posturing, a whole universe of symbolic gestures that appear on the front pages of newspapers. Below this superficial level is where the real substance lies. Afghanistan exemplifies the disconnect between rhetoric and reality. On Wednesday, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, which comprises Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States, convened in Islamabad to begin the fifth round of peace talks to end the 14-year war in Afghanistan. As in the past four iterations of negotiations, the Taliban -- whose presence the talks are designed to invite -- have been absent. But another party is also missing: the Afghans....

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