Ahmad Majidyar blogs at the American Enterprise Institute about US-NATO negotiations with the Taliban, characterizing them as “goodwill gestures” and “appeasement.”
The British Embassy in Kabul recently hosted an Iftar party on the occasion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The guest list included senior ex-members of the Taliban regime. One photo from the event shows British ambassador William Patey posing cheerfully with Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban’s former ambassador to Pakistan.
The Taliban’s response to the embassy’s goodwill gesture is telling. Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers stormed the British Council office in Kabul this morning, killing at least eight Afghan policemen and taking over the compound for several hours. The Taliban’s spokesman said the group carried out the attack to mark the anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from Great Britain in 1919.
The nationalistic blindness here is unbelievable. Apparently, in Majidyar’s world, a ruthless decade-long war and occupation which has ravaged the country, caused immense human suffering, is still leading to unprecedented levels of civilian casualties, has set up and lavishly supports one of the most corrupt governments in the world…that’s goodwill. And promising to leave by 2014, and then taking it back, insisting on an extra decade of occupation at least? That also must be goodwill.
The policy of appeasing the Taliban has failed. Diplomatic engagement with the Taliban will not produce any results until the terrorist group is defeated militarily.
Again, the appeasement part is a joke. While Obama has made moves to negotiate and reach a political settlement which may include a power sharing agreement (the irony…), it can hardly be said to be appeasement. And to insist that the Taliban be “defeated militarily” is to grossly misunderstand this conflict. It is based on this notion the remaining Taliban threatens America or that they may give sanctuary to al Qaeda after a withdrawal, but this is clearly unsupported by the facts. The Afghan Taliban do not have foreign policy objectives outside of ousting foreign occupiers. And the relationship with al Qaeda has soured, making collusion unlikely. So what would it even mean to defeat them militarily? They are religiously committed to driving out the American presence and won’t stop until they are dead. And when they are dead, their deaths as well as the ongoing US military presence there will serve to inspire a new generation of insurgents.
It’s interesting, because Majidyar wrote down these facts implicitly when he reported that the recent Taliban attack on the British Council office in Kabul was said by the Taliban spokesman “to mark the anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from Great Britain in 1919.” There it is, screaming right in his face. And all he can think is “stop the appeasement…escalate the war.”