Lesson of the Day: ‘After 18 Years, Is This Afghan Peace, or Just a Way Out?’

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Lesson of the Day: ‘After 18 Years, Is This Afghan Peace, or Just a Way Out?’

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Featured Article: “After 18 Years, Is This Afghan Peace, or Just a Way Out?” by David E. Sanger

After more than a year of talks, Taliban and American negotiators struck a deal on Feb. 29 to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, laying out the beginning of the end of the United States’ longest war.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how Afghanistan has gone from being considered the “good war” to a longstanding burden that the Trump administration now seeks to unload. Then you’ll view New York Times photos and read firsthand accounts from Afghan civilians to better understand the effects this decision could have.

If you need a refresher on the war in Afghanistan, you might read this short explainer or check out our related lesson plan before starting this lesson.

A recent Times article reports on details of the accord between the Taliban and the United States:

The agreement signed in Doha, Qatar, which followed more than a year of stop-and-start negotiations and conspicuously excluded the American-backed Afghanistan government, is not a final peace deal, is filled with ambiguity, and could still unravel.

But it is seen as a step toward negotiating a more sweeping agreement that some hope could eventually end the insurgency of the Taliban, the militant movement that once ruled Afghanistan under a severe Islamic code.

The war cost $2 trillion and took the lives of more than 3,500 American and coalition troops and tens of thousands of Afghans since the U.S. invasion in aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, which were plotted by Al Qaeda leaders under the protection of the Taliban.

The withdrawal of American troops — about 12,000 are still in Afghanistan — is dependent on the Taliban’s fulfillment of major commitments that have been obstacles for years, including its severance of ties with international terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.

The agreement also hinges on more difficult negotiations to come between the Taliban and the Afghan government over the country’s future. Officials hope those talks will produce a power-sharing arrangement and lasting cease-fire, but both ideas have been anathema to the Taliban in the past.

Who was involved in negotiating this deal? Who was not? What are the terms of the agreement? What challenges lay ahead?