American Elephants

We’re Going to Talk to the Taliban, Talk to the Taliban, No One’s Asking Why. by The Elephant's Child


The United States is commencing negotiations with the Taliban — the people who are trying to kill American soldiers every day. What is it that we are negotiating? The Taliban has no reason to negotiate seriously with us. Obama has already scheduled when our troops are leaving, so the prospects for a Taliban military victory in Afghanistan would seem to be good. Why would the Taliban make concessions of any kind?

Investors said today that Obama “is practically engineering a silent coup against flawed Afghan President Hamid Karzai, with whom we replaced the Taliban in 2001. He’s copying America’s worst mistake of the Vietnam War, when the Kennedy administration betrayed South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem 50 years ago.

Karzai  backed out of impending talks with the Taliban after the U.S. announced its diplomats will negotiate directly with the country’s bloodthirsty former rulers.  The American announcement was met by a Taliban rocket attack on Bagram Air Base that killed four of our troops and wounded six others.

More to Karzai’s distaste, however, the political office the Taliban opened in Qatar on the same day the U.S. formally announced our nationwide transfer of security to Afghan government forces bears the name the Taliban used as rulers, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. It sounds awfully like a provisional government.

Karzai, whose father was gunned down by the Taliban outside a mosque in 1999, can read the writing on the wall. His days are numbered.

Back in 2007, when Obama was first campaigning for president, he argued that the Iraq war was a diversion from U.S. national interests, and that the legitimate war — the one Americans needed to win— was in Afghanistan. Since then he’s been trying to talk back the idea of victory. By setting a deadline for when we’d be out, Obama lost the confidence of America’s allies among the Afghans and convinced the Taliban and the Pakistanis that their strategy was working.

If they follow their usual course, the Taliban will turn on and purge any pro-Western Afghans as soon as the last Americans depart. Our allies who have sent troops to help with the fight in Afghanistan will lose even more confidence in the trustworthiness of America. And as Michael Rubin wrote: “the idea that Taliban terrorism defeated a superpower is what every Islamist from Minneapolis to Mogadishu and from Tehran to Timbuktu will conclude, as they plot their future strategy and tactics in their ideological confrontation with Western Liberalism.” That does not bode well.

Obama came into office with profound ignorance of foreign policy, and was sure that his visit to Pakistan when he was in college,  and living in a Muslim country as a child gave him a special ability to make peace with the Islamist world. That went well.

He carelessly threw away a hard-fought victory in Iraq, his embarrassing misunderstanding of the Arab Spring has ignited a sectarian war across the Middle East, and convinced our allies that the United States of America is weak and not to be trusted. In his canned speech at the Brandenburg Gate, he announced new efforts to shut down Guantanamo Bay, which suggest he may meet the Taliban demand that he release Taliban detainees.

Having successfully weakened America’s position in the world, and with apparent indifference to the increasing danger of nuclear proliferation  — is he still counting on talks with Iran, North Korea and China?—he announced that he wants to cut our nuclear arsenal by one-third, because he thinks nuclear disarmament is a really swell idea. Has he learned yet that Vladimir Putin is really not a nice guy?

Opening talks with the Taliban have been “delayed,” just announced on the radio. The Taliban went overboard with the new offices in Qatar, importantly named “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and with a Taliban flag flying over the office. Bad move. With Karzai backing out of talks, apparently someone in the administration has finally noticed that this is not cool at all. More backroom shuffling around. More statements for the public to paper over the pretensions of noble intent. Can’t be done. Dreadful stupid mistaken mess. .


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