The eventual withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan is necessary, but it cannot be hasty or ill-planned, writes Henry Kissinger in the Washington Post. The conflict is often seen as an American one, but this is truly an international problem. A bad handoff "is a prescription for wider conflict," writes Kissinger, one that could pit the likes of Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and China against each other. "Afghanistan could then play the role of the Balkans prior to World War I."
"A partly regional, partly global diplomatic effort is needed to accompany direct negotiation with the Taliban," writes Kissinger. And any exit strategy must meet four conditions: "a cease-fire; withdrawal of all or most American and allied forces; the creation of a coalition government or division of territories among the contending parties (or both); and an enforcement mechanism." The last one, to keep the Taliban in line, is the trickiest, and a "regional conference" is the only way to make sure it gets done right.