I was browsing through my father's pile of books a while back and I came across a hardback with a great title: 'Hope Is Not A Strategy'. (It's not about politics, or Afghanistan, so don't bother looking it up).
And they're right. It's not.
Which brings me to an article I'm reading at the moment: Alex Thier's "Afghanistan's Rocky Path to Peace". You can see in this photo I took of my notes that I enjoyed the near-fairy-tale like quality of the article's assumptions:
The words that occur with great frequency in this article are conditional: 'could' appears 8 times, 'might' appears 12 times and 'would' occurs 29 times (and also the word 'will' 29 times, as if force of suggestion will make something happen).
It's probably just me, but I came away from this article with the sense -- if this was as far as we might allow ourselves to think in terms of a possible negotiated settlement -- that there is no way this can ever happen. For all that is presented is hope. Hope that this might change. He even says that the possibility would require "the stars to align".
That's not enough. There are enough alternative possibilities to the outline presented in this article that mean the concluding paragraph falls flat on its face.
"Do the Afghan people get a say? After 30 years of war they are among the poorest and most traumatized people on earth. But they are possessed of endurance and an indomitable spirit. If the indigenous, neutral leadership that supports a just peace could find its voice, that might spur a movement that presses the parties to reconcile."
I say it again. Hope. Is. Not. A. Strategy.