Taliban unlikely to bite on a deal

NY Times:

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, expressed strong skepticism on Sunday about the prospects for an Afghanistan deal being pushed by Pakistan between the Afghan government and elements of the Taliban, saying militants do not yet have a reason to negotiate seriously.

“We have seen no evidence that they are truly interested in reconciliation, where they would surrender their arms, where they would denounce Al Qaida, where they would really try to become part of that society,” said Mr. Panetta in an interview on ABC’s news program “This Week.”

Mr. Panetta’s comments came amid reports, not yet confirmed by American officials, that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has met personally with Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani network, a faction of the Afghan Taliban considered to be close to Al Qaeda.

Acknowledging that the American-led counterinsurgency effort is facing unexpected difficulty, Mr. Panetta said that the Taliban and its allies at this point have little motive to contemplate a power-sharing arrangement in Afghanistan.

“We’ve seen no evidence of that and, very frankly, my view is that with regards to reconciliation, unless they’re convinced that the United States is going to win and that they’re going to be defeated, I think it’s very difficult to proceed with a reconciliation that’s going to be meaningful,” he said.

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As I have noted before, you win a war by persuading the other side that their cause if hopeless. Unfortunately, the President's deadline for withdrawal gives the enemy hope as does Karzai's attempts at a truce. Right now there are more people on our side acting like the losers than there are on the Taliban side. I agree with Panetta's assessment.

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