Alex Thier is the founder of Triple Helix, a US-based consultancy firm that aims to increase access to off-grid, renewable energy in developing countries, and the editor of The Future of Afghanistan (2009). A former executive director of the Overseas Development Institute in London, he was also a senior US official in various capacities involving Afghanistan and Pakistan during the Obama administration. (September 2019)
It was Afghanistan’s well-heeled foreign minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, the son of a famous jihadist leader, who first used the V-word with me. “I’ve been reading accounts of the Paris Peace talks, and the secret deal that was made by Kissinger with North Vietnam,” he said. “Kissinger said that they should wait a ‘decent interval’ before taking the South.” The unpopularity of the war and political challenges at home exerted pressure to conclude a weak agreement. Was the US negotiating strategy with the Taliban really just to secure a “decent interval” between the withdrawal and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban?