Op-Ed from Carr Center's John Shattuck.
"In a world rampant with terrorism, Thursday’s verdict in the Radovan Karadzic trial in The Hague is a victory for international justice. The former Bosnian Serb leader was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for leading a reign of genocidal terror during the Bosnian war."
As the civilian population is increasingly targeted in wars, children constitute an increasing quota among the victims of each conflict. More often than not, the horrific practice of targeting civilians during conflict is seconded by the deplorable active use of child soldiers. In some countries, a whole generation of children seems to have grown up without knowing peace. A lot has been written about war-affected people, and the psychological consequences that they bear as a result of these traumatic experiences; yet, a literature that focuses specifically on the psychological burden of child soldiers is only now slowly emerging. While it might be intuitive that war and widespread violence leave deep psychological scars, it is essential to understand what shape these scars take on children. The relevance of the topic is striking at both a humanitarian and a developmental level as ‘lost education can take years to regain, and physical and psychological trauma may be long lasting’.
This report examines the evolution of the Taliban case for armed struggle and the minimal adjustments Taliban rhetoricians made to cope with the impending political change in Afghanistan in 2014. It considers how the Taliban might make a case for peace, should they take the political decision to engage in negotiations.
The Taliban movement commands the loyalty of thousands of Afghans and applies resources and men to the pursuit of political objectives, guided by doctrine and inspired by rhetoric. Taliban rhetoric consists of religious and historical references, narratives of recent events, and guidance for Taliban sympathizers. The rhetoric asserts that the Taliban are engaged in a righteous jihad aimed at establishing a divinely ordered Islamic system in Afghanistan. Taliban doctrine focuses on internal affairs and in particular on maintaining cohesiveness. The Taliban are ruthless in enforcing their doctrine of obedience to the amir, or leader. The movement has retained a narrow social base, and its power is concentrated in the hands of mullahs from the Kandahari Pashtun tribes. Any project to build a plural Afghanistan is likely to include an appeal to the Taliban or the constituency they have mobilized. The Taliban’s own attempts to regain power rest on a negation of pluralism, rejection of a popular mandate, and assertion of the divine right vested in their Islamic emirate. A Taliban rhetoric of peace would require addressing the position of the Taliban’s amir, peace as a desirable state, the need for cohesiveness and unity in support of peace, celebration of the withdrawal of foreign troops, Islamic credentials of the government in Kabul, protection of those who sacrificed for the Taliban, peace as conclusion of the jihad, and the new role for the Taliban’s cadres. After 2014, the Taliban leadership is vulnerable to a hard-line challenge arguing that the political system in Kabul is irredeemably compromised by its collaboration with unbelievers.