Four-Power Afghanistan Talks Conclude in Moscow

Four-Power Afghanistan Talks Conclude in Moscow

In the face of mounting uncertainty, representatives from China, Russia, the United States, and Pakistan all agreed that talks with the Taliban hold the most promise for lasting peace in the war-torn country.

The daylong Moscow conference was a precursor to intra-Afghanistan talks in Beijing. These negotiations should begin in November. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is a surprise participant in these talks. Normally, the Afghan government refuses to participate in any negotiations that it does not sponsor. Former President Hamid Karzai and Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who co-founded the movement, are also expected to attend. Currently, the Taliban are at a post-9/11 high tide. They control about 50% of the country.

In a joint statement, Moscow conference participants encouraged talks to continue and called for a reduction in violence. That request may be enough to bring President Donald Trump, who has vowed to withdraw from Afghanistan and backed out of a previous peace agreement, back to the table.

War and Peace

For everything there is a season. A time for war and a time for peace, a time to be born and a time to die, and you probably know the rest. So, is now the time for peace or war in Afghanistan? A better question may be: What does the U.S. expect in Afghanistan?

Clearly, the Americans want a pro-Western government, or at least one that is not friendly to terrorists. Forcibly breaking the Taliban does not seem to be an option. If it has not happened over the past 18 years, it probably will not happen, but there is more than one way to achieve this objective.

If the Taliban are willing to negotiate, they may be willing to at least partially repent. For them, it may be better to expand their power base than to harbor international terrorists. The Amercians would probably be willing to live with that, especially if other pieces are in place.

The Americans also want a respectful government. The Taliban certainly does not have the best record in this area, but the Taliban is more respectful of human rights than some other groups in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

Additionally, the prospect of renewed American military activity might be sufficient to keep the Taliban on the straight and narrow.

Finally, the Americans want a representative government. That could happen. If the Taliban is willing to accept a large role in a democratically-elected government, everyone would probably be happy.

It is almost impossible to predict these things. The North Korea-South Korea cease fire in 1953 looked to be only a temporary solution, at best. But some 65 years later, that cease fire is still in effect. Indeed, neither side has made much of an effort to break it.

In other situations, all the pieces seem to be in place, but everything falls apart. After World War I, Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points seemed to be a framework for a lasting peace, and Germany clearly did not have the means to continue the fight.

Lingering animosities bubbled to the surface. France wanted to punish Germany for the destruction of World War I and also for the humiliating way Germany concluded the previous Franco-Prussian War.

Economics played a factor as well. France racked up a substantial war debt during the fighting. The British could not afford to waive the debt and the Americans did not want to waive it. Someone had to pay, and that “someone” was Germany. The large reparations were unbearable for a defeated country transitioning to democracy.

So, maybe it is time to give peace a chance in Afghanistan. Fortunately, we do not wrestle with such weighty questions here. We just fight for the legal and financial rights of injured overseas contractors. More on that below.

Contractors in Afghanistan

Ever since the U.S. invasion began, American forces in Afghanistan have relied heavily on private military contractors. These individuals play a large combat role, and they will also play a large non-combat role.

Contractors are very well-suited for anti-insurgency campaigns. Frequently, these efforts involve knocking on doors as opposed to kicking them in. Developing a rapport with the local population is often the best way to prevent militants from taking root in an area. Additionally, there is an old saying that you can attract more flies with honey. People who feel close to contractors are more likely to give them valuage information.

Of course, contractors must also be ready to kick in doors when needed. That is where their training and access to the latest high-technology weapons, like drones, comes in handy.

When the fighting in Afghanistan finally ends, the private military contractor mission will not end. Construction and rebuilding crews still need security. Without a constant military presence, the popularly-elected government may have little force.

Flexible contractors are well-suited for these tasks, as well. When the need for security ends, contractors go home. Or, when the need for security shifts, contractors easily adapt.

Injury Compensation Available

Just like there is a procedure involved in combat and non-combat contractor duties, there is also a procedure involved in Defense Base Act injury compensation matters.

Typically, there is a rather early settlement conference. A mediator reviews the medical records and other paperwork in the file. Then, the mediator tries to facilitate a settlement between the victim and the insurance company.

Very few cases settle at this point. Often, the insurance company makes a “low-ball” offer and hopes that the contractor will take it and abandon the claim. Unfortunately, many DBA lawyers advise their clients to take the money and run. We use a different approach.

Most of our cases advance to the next phase, with is a hearing before an administrative law judge. At this hearing, attorneys may introduce evidence, challenge evidence, and make legal arguments. In other words, they build damage claims and destroy insurance company defenses.

So, many claims we handle settle on favorable terms at this point. These terms include money for all lost wages and all reasonably necessary medical bills.

Contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A. to learn more about available DBA benefits.