Interesting news today:
US prepared to accept reconciliation with Taliban
The United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the Bush administration would be prepared to reconcile with the Taliban if the Afghan government pursued talks to end the war.
However, he says there’s no chance of any negotiations with Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda organisation.
Mr Gates says reconciliation could be the political end to the conflict in Afghanistan, but it must happen on the Afghan government’s terms and the Taliban must subject itself to the sovereignty of the government.
Now, reading between the lines, what this says to me is that the Afghan government is already on board, and talks have already begun under its auspices, through intermediaries. This would never have hit the press if things weren’t at least that far along. It’s obviously a fig leaf for the U.S. needing to withdraw from an untenable situation, where we have too few troops on the ground to control the country and no more available to send in. With a depression nipping at our heels, we can’t afford this kind of adventurism any more (much less the nation-building that comes with it), so it’s time to try to save face and get out as soon as possible.
(That we never should have invaded or occupied the country in the first place, when all we needed was some international pressure along with small, targeted police actions designed to weed out bin Laden and the al Qaeda leadership, is of course never even discussed. This is something about which I definitely disagree with Obama: we can’t “win” in Afghanistan, no matter what strategy we pursue there. Outsiders never win in Afghanistan.)
Bush can spend years insisting that it’s wrong to sit down with our enemies (wasting billions of dollars and countless lives along the way, all while driving our country into an economic ditch), and he and his party can lambaste Obama for proposing such a naive thing as diplomacy with other nations… but as soon as he’s really up against the wall and needs to cover his ass (pardon the mixed metaphor), suddenly (even with an “evil” organization) formal talks are just fine.
(Just as they were before 9/11, of course, when the U.S. was perfectly happy to deal with the Taliban, even having delegations come to our shores, for no better cause than the hope that it would help facilitate a Unocal oil pipeline.)
Even when Bush stumbles into doing the right thing, it’s for all the wrong reasons, and with a worse result than he could have achieved by leaving things alone in the first place.Tags: Afghanistan, diplomacy, George W. Bush, Obama