Still, the intra-Afghan peace negotiations have finally arrived. For the first time since the war began shortly after the 9/11 attacks 19 years ago, the Afghan government and the Taliban will sit face-to-face on Saturday, Sept. 12, to begin a diplomatic process that the world hopes will eventually produce a comprehensive peace accord.
News of the talks comes at the same time U.S. troop levels in the country are projected to be reduced by nearly 50 percent over the next two months and as President Donald Trump formally nominated William Ruger, a U.S. Navy Reservist, Vice President for Research and Policy at the Charles Koch Institute and long-time critic of the war, to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.
There is a sense of anticipation about what the intra-Afghan talks will produce and whether they will succeed. There is a consensus that the negotiations will be extraordinarily complicated, given the weighty issues at stake for the Afghans. But for U.S. foreign policy officials, it's vitally important to understand that Afghanistan — and Afghanistan alone — will determine its future.