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Should the Obama administration negotiate with “reconcilable” Taliban?

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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 02:53 PM
Original message
Should the Obama administration negotiate with “reconcilable” Taliban?
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 03:04 PM by bigtree
March 7, 2009


Backers of a pro-Taliban cleric in the Swat Valley who signed a truce with Pakistan.


. . . last Friday, in an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Obama opened the door to approaching elements of the Taliban, if his administration’s review recommends it. He cited an argument he attributed to Gen. David H. Petraeus that “part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us.” Mr. Obama added that “there may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani region, but the situation in Afghanistan is, if anything, more complex.”

That leaves the Obama administration still light years away from beginning talks with Mullah Mohammad Omar, who was the Taliban’s leader when it ruled Afghanistan on Sept. 11, 2001. These days, he has been accused of guiding commanders in southern Afghanistan from his base in Quetta, Pakistan, raising money from wealthy Persian Gulf donors, and delivering guns and fresh fighters to the battlefield, administration officials say. And even if the United States eventually opted for talking with Taliban members, it is more likely that those Taliban members would be talking to Afghan officials, rather than directly to Americans.

But there is a growing belief, particularly among experts who have been advising the Obama administration on Afpak policy, that it is important to peel away some lower members of the Taliban, in sort of a divide-and-conquer strategy. General Petraeus, the head of the United States Central Command, said last year that one element of the counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq that might be applicable in Afghanistan was outreach to what he has described as “reconcilables” among the insurgents.

Under that principle, Mullah Omar is not considered, at least at this point by the West, as “reconcilable.” But a local Taliban district commander might be . . .

read: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/weekinreview/08COOPER...


Obama Ponders Outreach to Elements of the Taliban

WASHINGTON March 7, 2009 — President Obama declared in an interview that the United States was not winning the war in Afghanistan and opened the door to a reconciliation process in which the American military would reach out to moderate elements of the Taliban, much as it did with Sunni militias in Iraq.

Mr. Obama pointed to the success in peeling Iraqi insurgents away from more hard-core elements of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a strategy that many credit as much as the increase of American forces with turning the war around in the last two years. “There may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani region,” he said, while cautioning that solutions in Afghanistan will be complicated.

Mr. Obama said on the campaign trail last year that the possibility of breaking away some elements of the Taliban “should be explored,” an idea also considered by some military leaders . . .

“If you talk to General Petraeus, I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us because they had been completely alienated by the tactics of Al Qaeda in Iraq,” Mr. Obama said.

At the same time, he acknowledged that outreach may not yield the same success. “The situation in Afghanistan is, if anything, more complex,” he said. “You have a less governed region, a history of fierce independence among tribes. Those tribes are multiple and sometimes operate at cross purposes, and so figuring all that out is going to be much more of a challenge.”

read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/us/politics/08obama.h...



President Obama talking with members of the Ohio Congressional delegation aboard Air Force One on Friday during a trip to Ohio.
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 02:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. If we are going to cut the taproot between the Afgan tribes, and the
ideological fanatics, I see no other alternative. That is not our country. They will have to evolve at their own pace.
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FreakinDJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 02:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. FUCK NO
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. What would be YOUR endgame?
Should we just sow the fields with salt?
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FreakinDJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 03:32 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Nothing has changed - "Turn over Osama or else!!
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 03:45 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. ha!
. . . like the 'Taliban are all huddled around him somewhere.

That's as ridiculous as the entire campaign against them. Most folks who are prosecuting this thing believe there are three separate struggles against the 'Taliban' which sometimes intersect.

One is the obvious military campaign described in the original authorization to use military force as the pursuit and capture of the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks. Most of those folks fled Afghanistan years ago and are in hiding somewhere in Pakistan. Their link to the rest of the Taliban in the rest of Pakistan or Afghanistan is a fragmented one without the clear path to bin-Laden and the rest, as you suggest.

Another is the military effort to protect and defend the installed government in Afghanistan and the tenuous democracy in Pakistan against gains by the militarized organization and individuals who identify their resistance to NATO and the U.S. with the Taliban organization and receive support or assistance from them in that pursuit.

There is also the defense of commerce and transport against attacks and IEDs perpetrated by individuals identifying with the Taliban.
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JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #4
14. Which Osama? Where does one start digging for his bones?
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 04:14 PM
Response to Original message
6. Of course. We're never going to prevail militarily. There's going to have to be dialog sooner or
later. Stop dropping bombs on villages and start talking.

sw
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #6
15. Karzai thinks it's a good idea
Mr Karzai says his government has long supported dialogue with Taliban members who are not linked to the extremists.

"It is very good news that the American president, his excellency Obama, has backed talks with those Taliban that he termed as moderate," he said in Kabul.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/03/09/2510582.h...
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 05:58 PM
Response to Original message
7. .
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. This thread should have attracted a bit more discussion... We are
going to have to address this issue... (the sooner the better, IMHO)
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 07:06 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. I agree
Not even the military believes they'll succeed in pacifying or eliminating every province or tribe which associates with or identifies itself as 'Taliban'_ even if that actually was a correct and prudent exercise of our forces.
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:29 PM
Response to Original message
10. .
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 11:00 AM
Response to Original message
11. Afghan President Says He Welcomes Taliban Talks With Obama
March 8, 2009

Afghanistan – Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said that he welcomes President Obama’s call for reconciliation with the moderate Taliban members who have been isolated from the main extremist group.

Obama made the call for such action after he made it clear that the current war effort is not working, and that it will take more then troops and force to settle such a gaping divide between peoples.

“There may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani region,” he said. “But the situation in Afghanistan is, if anything, more complex.”

According to Karzai, there are many opportunities for the West to take advantage of the many who have been left alienated and unhappy by the decisions of the local extremist tribes, although filtering them out with those that cannot be reasoned with will be a difficult task.

http://chattahbox.com/world/2009/03/08/afghan-president... /
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 11:27 AM
Response to Original message
12. Well, the "kill 'em all" strategy didn't work so good
In fact, it seems to have worked out every bit as well as the Soviet Union's assay.

This is, of course, the correct strategy, and if it had been tried in 2001 instead of the insane power grab and fearmongering of the Bush administration, George W. Bush might indeed be measuring Mt. Rushmore for an addition. But Bush was wholly incapable of any subtlety of thought as regards foreign policy.

To explain: The Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts, but not acts of war. By treating them as acts of war, the Bush administration guaranteed failure, because war is a notoriously poor tool. Violence does not drive out violence. However, treating a violent act as a crime, and working with the international community to bring the perpetrators to justice, is far less morally ambiguous, and will peel off the outer layers of support that criminals might enjoy.

Surely there were a number of people all over the world who, while not approving of the attacks, nevertheless felt that the United States had been paid back a little bit for its oppressive ways. When the Bush administration went insane in response to the attacks, that nascent feeling of "they got what they deserved" hardened and was reinforced. As Bush began his slow-motion invasion of Iraq, more people were convinced that the United States was a dangerous force for evil and oppression. Rightly ignoring the self-serving justifications of "weapons of mass destruction" by the Bush administration (and no doubt harking back to the television series Babylon 5 while doing so), many people around the world watched in horrified fascination as all their darkest impressions of the United States were confirmed. The mass reprisals, civilian massacres, detainment without charges, and torture just gave features to a heretofore formless dread, and played into the fears stoked by the likes of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

However, had the Sept. 11 attacks been treated as a crime, and had the Bush administration invited the rest of the world to assist in the capture and trial of the masterminds (the perpetrators being dead), they could have peeled off some of that support enjoyed by the terrorists. Moving in a deliberate and above-board fashion to identify the perpetrators, develop the evidence against them, and enlist the assistance of other governments to isolate and capture the masterminds, the Bush administration would have settled the matter far less expensively.

Would there be people who thought that the masterminds were being railroaded? Almost certainly. There is a hard nut of resentment against the United States that is irreducible. If you're a baseball fan, think of the Yankees and the hostility they engender, even when they fall on hard times. The Taliban has had eight years to solidify its support in Afghanistan and in other places. Some of that support is politically driven (it's useful for any number of leaders to appear to be anti-Western), but the antics of the Bush administration have served to alienate a lot of people horrified by the Sept. 11 attacks, but who see the American response as further proof that we had it coming to us.

But moving toward justice rather than revenge, observing the rules of procedure and developing a criminal case would have sapped any sympathy toward the surviving terrorists, and turned world opinion against whoever put this heinous crime together. Following up a successful prosecution, if we had had a little of that "humility" in foreign relations that candidate George W. Bush espoused, the United States would be in a far superior position to negotiate and deal with "moderate" elements of hostile organizations and governments.

Is it too late to choose that path even now? Perhaps. But we will never know unless we try it.
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. I'm not inclined to give heed to any U.S. action which might have inspired the 9-11 killings
Edited on Sun Mar-08-09 11:45 AM by bigtree
. . . but there is a clear connection between our military presence and activity and the bulk of the individuals resigned or inclined to violence that the military spends most of their time lashing out against. We are locked in a self-perpetuating battle in Iraq and Afghanistan against the consequences and effects of our own grudging militarism.

The military effort in Afghanistan, which is rooted in the initial response to the 9-11 attacks, has evolved into a defense of the Afghan government that our military forces have enabled in Kabul. The regime change and defense is operationally at odds with that original mission against al-Qaeda and their Taliban supporters - counterproductive to any effort to attract the Afghan population to their nation-building cause.

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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 06:43 PM
Response to Original message
16. US to step up attacks on Pakistan as it forces Taliban to talk
The United States is planning to escalate aerial bombing raids on Pakistan's tribal areas in tandem with efforts to force moderate elements of the Taliban to the negotiating table, the Telegraph has learned.

Officials in contact with the State Department said on Sunday that a new offensive would see a dramatic increase in Predator drone attacks on Taliban targets in defiance of Pakistani objections to cross-border attacks.

President Barack Obama on Sunday admitted that the US military was pushing for talks with the Taliban, but officials consulted on the plans said the military conflict would be raised to new levels of intensity before talks could begin. "There will be talks but the Taliban are going to experience a lot of pain first, on both sides of the border," said one senior Western diplomat.

There are hopes of establishing a "hammer and anvil" encirclement of the Taliban with the Pakistan Army expected to extend its bombardment of terrorist safe havens within the Tribal Area's Bajaur agency.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/...
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 06:47 PM
Response to Original message
17. That's my fucking President: Exploring various possible options in a very complex situation.
That's the change I voted for.
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