Peace Appears Closer in Afghanistan

Peace Appears Closer in Afghanistan

After almost two decades of conflict, peace may finally be coming to the war-torn country. Even if that happens, contractors in Afghanistan will probably not be packing their bags and heading home anytime soon.

After almost a week of talks in Qatar, chief American negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad announced that both sides had agreed for Afghanistan to be a terrorist-free zone in the future. The preliminary agreement seems like a no-brainer to outsiders, but it constitutes a breakthrough in U.S. negotiations with the Taliban. However, significant roadblocks remain. For example, the Taliban refuses to recognize the Afghan democratic government. There is no resolution in sight in terms of a division of power. Furthermore, Afghan women are deeply afraid that, if the U.S. leaves, the Taliban will lash out against them.

Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, expressed little confidence in the outcome. “I can’t see this as anything more than an effort to put lipstick on what will be a U.S. withdrawal,” he asserted.

Winding Down the War in Afghanistan

Pretty much everyone in America and Afghanistan wants peace in Southwest Asia, but government leaders in both capitals are taking things one step at a time. No one in Kabul wants a repeat of the 1989 Geneva Accords that ended the 1980s Soviet intervention. No one in Washington wants a repeat of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, which ended U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

The Geneva Accords which ended the Afghan-Soviet War turned out to be little more than a 10-year cease fire. Roughly a dozen years after the last Red Army troops left, the first American airstrikes in the Global War on Terror hit Kabul and Jalalabad.

Part of the problem was that the Geneva Accords offered no lasting solutions. By the time the two sides concluded negotiations, Afghanistan had basically ceased to exist as a nation.

During the preceding decade, the CIA prompted Islamic militants from all over the world to come to Afghanistan and fight the infidel invaders. Once those infidels left, the militants began fighting each other for control of the country. One of these groups later became the Taliban.

Ostensibly, the U.S. invaded to prop up the late Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance, which according to some, was the last vestige of democracy in Afghanistan. According to others, however, Massoud was nothing more than a warlord bent on absolute power.

Additionally, because of the Geneva Accords, a regional conflict with some Cold War implications became a global conflict. So, in a way, the peace settlement created more war victims than it saved.

As for Washington’s perspective, it is hard to call the Paris Peace Accords a rush job. As early as 1968, the two sides appeared to be near a settlement. Days before the November Presidential election, Candidate Richard Nixon allegedly ordered his Chief of Staff, H.R. Halderman, to throw a “monkey wrench” into the peace talks. Supposedly, Nixon believed that if negotiations collapsed, it would make the Democrats look bad and propel him into the White House.

Nixon denied that this happened, and it has never been conclusively proven otherwise. As all the parties, including Nixon, Halderman, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, are dead, we may never know for sure.

Five years later, the environment had changed considerably. In fact, by 1973, Nixon had done a complete turn-around. Instead of supposedly doing whatever he could to prolong the war, he was desperate to end it. Furthermore, his assurances of continued support to South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu turned out to be empty promises. The following year, Congress began impeachment proceedings against Nixon, and that was the end.

So, the Taliban peace agreement must be both a lasting solution and a deliberate one. Thus far, the parties only have an agreement in principle on some broad ideas. That is not even close to a foundation for a lasting solution. Furthermore, the parties need to explore all angles and look 20 or more years into the future. If the deal would not be sustainable under almost any circumstances, it is probably not worthwhile.

Rebuilding Afghanistan

Just as private military contractors now bear most of the brunt of combat operations in Afghanistan, contractors will probably also do most of the wind-down and build-up work, as well.

At best, Taliban leaders will always be second in command. Religious zealots follow a higher power’s instructions, as they interpret those instructions. If the civil authorities contravene the word of Allah, Taliban fighters will probably ignore their instructions.

Therefore, even if Taliban leaders lay down their arms, fighting will probably continue. Under those circumstances, private military contractors must probably continue their defensive mission. There will still be checkpoints to supervise, roadblocks to maintain, and convoys to protect.

These armed contractors will leave soon enough, but other private contractors will replace them. These individuals will help build the roads, bridges, power stations, hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure which helps take the country back to normal. Without these efforts, no peace will last. Without experienced direction, these projects will fail.

Injury Compensation Available

Both combat and non-combat situations often involve either sudden or creeping injury. A contractor may sustain a head injury after a roadside bomb explodes, or a contractor may fall off scaffolding during a construction project. Likewise, combat-related hearing loss often sets in after repeated exposure to loud noises, and many older buildings have asbestos and other hazardous substances which cause serious illness.

In both of these situations, the Defense Base Act provides compensation for the substantial medical bills that these victims often face. These expenses include items like:

  • Emergency care,
  • Continued hospitalization,
  • Medical devices,
  • Physical therapy, and
  • Prescription drugs.

The DBA normally also pays for ancillary medical expenses, such as transportation costs to a stateside hospital or remodeling expenses incurred to make a home wheelchair-friendly.

Typically, the DBA insurance company pays these expenses directly according to a predetermined discount schedule. So, most victims never see a medical bill and are not responsible for any unpaid charges. If the insurance company does not settle the matter straightaway, an attorney can still arrange for the victim to receive treatment with no upfront cost.

Contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A. and learn what to expect in a DBA claim.