US national security advisor Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster travels to Delhi this weekend (after stops in Kabul and Islamabad) to parley with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior Indian officials amidst a major review of American strategy in Afghanistan. The buzz in Washington is that any reinvigouration of the US military campaign in Afghanistan might now be aimed at achieving strategic effects, not merely tactical ones. If that is the case, it suggests that the US could use force not simply to reverse battlefield gains by the Taliban but instead could pursue a lasting political settlement. In a recent op-ed in the New York Times and a public speech at Washington DC’s Stimson Center, former special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, ambassador Richard Olson suggested a political settlement might be possible allowing for reconciliation and Taliban entrance into the Afghan state.
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