Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Decision 2012, FrontPage.Com, Politics, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 8:44 am

Is it a good idea to negotiate with the Taliban?

I address this question in my latest column at FPM:

Ultimately, the question of leaving Afghanistan precipitously comes up when discussing the wisdom of talking to implacable enemies whose fanatical hatred of Americans would prevent them from compromising. The fact is, the army and police forces we are training to take over when all American combat troops are supposed to leave in 2014 are nowhere near ready, and have demonstrated little stomach so far to engage the Taliban in the areas assigned to them.

This is why the initial draw-down of US forces should be minimal, as the Pentagon is recommending. The president is set to announce his decision on Wednesday, but the pace of withdrawal would ideally hinge on the success – or failure – of negotiations with the Taliban. But the political pressure coming from even his own party to speed the withdrawal is intense, making any measured actions by the president problematic.

But there is a case to be made that it is far too soon to be pulling out of Afghanistan — negotiations or not. Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, writing in the Weekly Standard, make the point that if the ultimate goal of the war is to defeat not just the Taliban, but al-Qaeda as well, we must continue a high level of pressure on the Taliban in order to see our counter-insurgency strategy in Pakistan succeed:

Moreover, al-Qaeda is not finished because of bin Laden’s death. Senior leaders continue to live and work in Pakistan, coordinating operations with other al-Qaeda franchises around the world to attack Americans and America. What is the strategy for finishing this fight if we abandon Afghanistan prematurely or put progress toward stabilizing that country at risk?

The Kagans discern a connection between fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and destroying al-Qaeda in Pakistan. “Any rationalization that relies on separating those two undertakings is, in fact, misinformed and dangerous.” There is a symbiotic relationship that, if broken by a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, would make our counter-insurgency efforts in Pakistan useless.

But political considerations appear to be the driving force in our attempts to negotiate with the Taliban. And there doesn’t seem to be any stomach in the administration – or on the Hill – for much else.

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