Taliban rental plan?
As the Obama administration pours 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan, it has begun grappling with the next great dilemma of this long war: whether to reconcile with the men who sheltered Osama bin Laden and who still have close ties to Al Qaeda.The Financial Times says the Taliban are ready to deal.
The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said he wants to reach out to the leaders of the Taliban, and administration officials acknowledge privately that they are considering the idea. But they warn that the plan is rife with political risk at home and could jeopardize a widely backed effort to lure lower-ranking, more amenable Taliban fighters back into Afghan society.
The debate, still in its early stages, could shape the next phase of America’s engagement in Afghanistan, officials said, and is every bit as complicated as the decision on whether to commit more soldiers, not least because it rekindles memories of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
On Thursday, donor countries, led by the United States, Britain and Japan, are expected to commit $100 million a year to an Afghan fund for reintegrating the foot soldiers of the Taliban with jobs, cash and other inducements. But the allies are less sanguine about dealing with the Taliban’s high command, particularly its leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, and other “hard core” Taliban elements which, the administration bluntly declared last March, were “not reconcilable.”
One question is how likely these people are to be enticed by the inducements, given the gains the Taliban have made. Some American officials suggest the debate is premature, saying the Taliban have to be depleted through drone strikes and ground combat before they would return to the bargaining table.
...Of course if that happened they would not need to negotiate. At this point their so called gains are largely illusory. They can't really control any real estate that the US and NATO want to control. They are in the process of being kicked out of their most important area, Helmand province where much of their money is made. But, more importantly, their word is no good. They think it is OK to lie to get what they want.
Before tomorrow's opening of an international conference on Afghanistan in London that will address plans for an exit strategy for western forces, Omar Zakhilwal told the Financial Times he believed that the Taliban was ready to negotiate.
"Even at this moment they do sense that it will be impossible for them to return to power."
A Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mojahed, rejected claims that talks were under way. "There is no negotiation going on about reintegration plans or forming a political settlement," he said. "I don't think there will be any chance of negotiations until the foreign infidel troops leave our country."
Ralph Peters has a realistic take on the Taliban.
...We are dealing with religious bigots who use that bigotry to control parts of the population. You cannot buy off a religious bigot. We have to destroy the Taliban and take away any hope they have of returning to power of controlling the population. We are better off giving the money to the troops to do projects that will win over the non Taliban.
After almost a decade of open warfare with Islamist militants, thousands of global terror attacks in the name of Allah and even deadly Muslim turncoats in our military, we continue to deny that our enemies might be fighting for their faith -- or, in the Taliban's case, for faith, tribe, tradition and territory.
Nope, we're convinced it's about the lack of jobs. Well, sorry -- the Taliban aren't the Teamsters.