2/ My instinct was not to comment on what this attack means for peace talks. Afghans have the right to focus on the pain. But that's a copout. I am a longtime advocate for a negotiated peace with the Taliban and I should defend or change that position in light of the attack.
3/ The Taliban have denied involvement. (An ISIS-affiliated claimed a different attack yesterday, but no group has accepted responsibility for this one.) Let's explore the implications of several scenarios for peace talks: start by presuming that the Taliban's denial is true.
4/ Some commenters suggest that if the Taliban did not do this, "we are negotiating with the wrong people." That is not correct. Civil war creates dangerous gaps in state authority and thus the ability to provide security.
5/ This kind of awful attack will continue so long as civil war conditions prevail. So the options are as they have always been: win the war or negotiate the peace. The win the war experiment has been tried and, bluntly, failed. So negotiations are what remain.
6/ Now, what if the Taliban is lying and some unit is responsible for this? That is, of course, a much harder question. But what are the options? The U.S. and our Afghan friends have tried an failed to defeat the Taliban. What is going to change that?
7/ That does not mean that atrocities should be forgotten or forgiven. Any peace process needs to include a transitional justice component to be successful.
8/ In other words, in either scenario -- the Taliban are or not responsible -- @BRRubin is right: "eradicating whoever did this has to be part of any political settlement."
9/ In my view, that is through some combination of transitional justice and improving state authority so that there is less space for sociopaths to do this kind of thing.
10/ To be clear, even in the best case, that will a long-term process. Improved state authority will not be the *outcome* of a peace deal; rather, a peace deal would create the conditions that *might* allow for state authority over time.
11/ And an incomplete process. As and American, I am all too familiar with sociopathic mass violence in a society awash with guns.
12/ I'll end with this: the days I spent in the hospital with my wife for the birth of my children are among the happiest in my life.
13/ I am so sorry for what so many Afghans suffered yesterday. I am so sorry for the role I and others have played in allowing this war to fester for so long.

May the memory of those lost be a blessing.

You can follow @JarrettBlanc.
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