Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

How Not to Lose the Peace in Afghanistan

| Sep. 21, 2021

A U.N. peacekeeping mission could help avert civil war.

The United Nations Charter pledges "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." Afghans have been at war for several generations, and it is likely that the next generation will not see peace unless U.N. member states unite to prevent an intra-Afghan war. War prevention and peace, however, have not figured prominently as central goals for the U.N. in Afghanistan.

Instead, the U.N. system has focused on emergency humanitarian aid and, to a certain extent, countering terrorism. Outside of the United Nations, pressure is building to arm the opposition to the Taliban.

But there is a third way, between short-term humanitarian aid and fueling a civil war: deploying a U.N. or U.N.-supported peacekeeping mission. There is a fragile peace to keep in Afghanistan, and it is the duty of the United Nations to help keep it.

The Taliban are in control for now, and the fact that they have stabilized Afghan society for a moment could be their biggest achievement, as it was partly the war-weariness of rural communities that enabled their swift rise to power.

But can they remain in control? According to the expert Fawaz A. Gerges and many others, the Taliban have only a tenuous hold over the country, do not represent a majority of Afghans, and are struggling to govern. The Taliban face challenges both from within their ranks and from other armed groups....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Carpenter, Charli and Lise Howard.“How Not to Lose the Peace in Afghanistan.” Foreign Policy, September 21, 2021.

The Authors