WHAT WE DO
The Afghanistan Peace Campaign has five components:
Serve as a resource for peace and human rights activists, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, academics and citizens
The Afghanistan Peace Campaign’s website is updated daily with news from and about Afghanistan and important analytical articles. The website also archives important documents and has links to activist groups, think tanks and organizations carrying out humanitarian aid and conflict resolution programs on the ground in Afghanistan.
Influence public opinion with op-ed articles, television and radio interviews and extensive use of social media.
The Afghanistan Peace Campaign’s principal implementers, Bill Goodfellow and Shukria Dellawar, have been widely published in the United States and Europe. They write op-ed articles and provide press interviews making the case for negotiations.
The Afghanistan Peace Campaign’s advisory board members also write articles for U.S. and European publications.
Nationwide grassroots campaign to bolster public support for a negotiated political settlement and an end to the war.
Staff work closely with U.S. activist groups, especially Without War, America’s largest anti-war coalition. Win Without War has been an effective critic of America’s wars in the greater Middle East and north Africa. Win Without War is able to reach millions of activists through it 38 national organizations, from MoveOn.org to the Sierra Club and the National Council of Churches.
We also work with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the influential Quaker lobby on Capitol Hill. As well, we coordinate our work with the Institute for Policy Studies and with veterans’ groups that have opposed the war in Afghanistan.
Meetings with executive branch officials and members of Congress.
Goodfellow and Dellawar have spent many years establishing contacts with congressional staffers and members of Congress. They also have good contacts with Foreign Service Officers in the State Department, and through them reach out to Trump administration political appointees involved in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Zalmay Khalilzad, the special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation and development, Alice Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, and other officials at the State Department are looking for a way to exit Afghanistan that protects U.S. security interests and doesn’t turn the country over to the Taliban.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are keen to play a much larger role in shaping U.S. policy in Afghanistan. In the House, members of the Democratic caucus, especially freshman members, are backing legislation to require the executive branch to rapidly draw down U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In the Senate, most Republicans are taking the opposite tact by offering legislation that would prevent the Trump administration from reducing troop levels until the Taliban are defeated, although a few libertarian Republicans, led by Senator Rand Paul, favor an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces.
This standoff offers an opportunity to put together an alliance of pro-human rights liberals aiming to preserve the gains that women and members of civil society have made in Afghanistan during the past 17 years and pro-military conservatives reluctant to leave Afghanistan before the Taliban have been defeated.
We oppose keeping U.S. combat forces Afghanistan indefinitely, which is the definition of endless war, nor do we support withdrawing U.S. and NATO forces before an agreement is signed and UN-sponsored peacekeeping forces are deployed. We think a peace agreement could be negotiated in the next year that includes a nationwide ceasefire and a detailed plan for national reconciliation. Once a UN peacekeeping force has been deployed, U.S. and European forces can withdraw, satisfying the Democrats’ desire to end an endless war while reassuring the Republicans that the Taliban have ended their insurgency.
In the 1980s, Goodfellow and his colleagues at the Center for International Policy assembled a similar unholy alliance of pro-human rights Democrats and fiscally-conservative Republicans to end wars in Central America. Democratic members of Congress backed legislation calling for an immediate end to U.S. support for the Contras in Nicaragua and an end to support for the ultra-right-wing Arena government and military in El Salvador, while hardline Republicans wanted to continue backing the Reagan and Bush administration’s war policies in Central America. The middle ground was a peace agreement crafted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and signed in 1987 by all five Central American presidents. Once there was a signed peace agreement, Congress passed legislation that mandated an end to administration’s support for the Contras in Nicaragua and sharply scaled back lethal military aid to El Salvador, where the UN was organizing the demobilization of the FMLN insurgents. An essential part of the agreement was a pledge by the principal arms suppliers to the region, the United States and the Soviet Union, to stop funding irregular forces.
The key to the Center for International Policy’s team’s effectiveness was collaboration with dozens of activists groups in the United States, a partnership with allies in the Senate and House, and a close working relationship with Oscar Arias, who was the driving force behind the peace effort. Goodfellow and his colleagues served as a source of information as well as a communications link between government officials, UN officers and NGO activists in Central America and their counterparts in Washington and New York. We believe the Afghanistan Peace Campaign can replicate a similar, highly effective collaboration between government officials and NGO activists in Afghanistan and activists and congressional staff in Washington.
Outreach to peace groups in Europe and Japan.
Goodfellow and Dellawar have long-standing contacts with European peace groups. They have traveled to the UK, France and Norway to meet with key activist groups and also with government officials. They encourage activists to press their governments to support UN-mediated negotiations with the Taliban. In addition to writing op-ed articles for U.S. publications, campaign staff have written articles for European and Japanese publications.
The United States assembled a coalition of 39 countries that has sent troops to train Afghan security forces and provide financial support to the Afghan government. The war in Afghanistan has had very little support in Europe. However, because of President Barack Obama’s enormous popularity in Europe, leaders were reluctant to openly challenge U.S. policy. President Trump is enormously unpopular in Europe, yet leaders have continued to march in lockstep with the United States when it comes to the war in Afghanistan. As in the U.S., there is very little press coverage of the war and few European peace groups have made ending the war a priority.
We will try to raise the profile of the war by placing op-ed articles in European newspapers and on social media web sites. Italy, Germany and Georgia each have about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, while the UK, Romania and Turkey each have about 650. Even Norway has 55 trainers in Afghanistan. Given the Afghan security forces’ uneven performance, it is not clear that the training has been very effective.
In addition to supplying troops, European nations supply millions of dollars in assistance every year. While its constitution prohibits sending troops, Japan has provided millions of dollars in development aid to Afghanistan as well as funding for the disarmament, demobilization and job training of former Taliban combatants.
The goal is to have other European nations follow the example of Norway, which has supported negotiations by sponsoring private, off-the-record meetings in Norway between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government.
Afghanistan Study Group report
The Afghanistan Study Group published a landmark report in August 2010, “A New Way Forward: Rethinking U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan.” The final report was signed by over 50 widely-respected foreign policy professionals and received extensive press coverage in the United States, Europe and in Afghanistan. Signers concluded that the policy the Obama administration was following in 2010 was destined to fail. Eight years later, this prediction has been borne out.
The Afghan Study Group’s report and all the attendant press attention failed to reverse U.S. policy because the Obama administration and America’s NATO allies still believed that it was possible to defeat the Taliban, or at least degrade their ability to carry on the fight and force them to accept the terms being offered by the government of President Hamid Karzai.
In 2010, the United States and NATO had almost 140,000 troops in Afghanistan. Today there are 23,000 U.S. and NATO troops deployed in Afghanistan. There is no support in the United States or Europe for another large-scale surge of troops to Afghanistan, so a military victory over the Taliban is not possible. Therefore, the Trump administration should support a power-sharing agreement with elements of the Taliban so the U.S. could withdraw the last combat troops from Afghanistan. The alternative is an endless and unwinnable war.