There is much talk about reconciliation in Kabul these days. United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan Kai Eide wonders out loud whether talks with the enemy ought to be organized at the district or provincial level, or whether, as he believes, "we should take a broader approach."
Thomas Ruttig of the independent consulting group Afghanistan Analysts Network recommends an intensive process of talks between the government and all the groups that have disassociated themselves from it. He supports nationwide hearings to heal the wounds of 30 years of war.
Anything is still possible in Afghanistan, writes Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in his recent study "The Afghanistan Campaign: Can We Win?" Cordesman, a respected security analyst, spent an entire month working in McChrystal's team to assess how much additional strength an accelerated buildup of Afghan security forces would provide. He analyzed cooperation within the international community and speculated on a new Afghan government's chances of launching a peace process. His conclusion is that the jury is still out when it comes to victory or failure.
On election day, Mohammed Nader Ashraf, the farmer from Helmand province, waits until it is completely dark before returning to his village near Khalaj. He is not interested in judging the outcome of his election adventure on the question of whether democracy has been advanced, or even whether Afghanistan will finally find peace. There is only one thing that counts for Ashraf: When will he get his land back?
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan