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Friday, July 1, 2011

Is A Deal With the Taliban The Basis for U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan?

By Barry Rubin

Ahmad Rashid is widely considered to be the best journalist on Afghan and related Pakistani issues. And he has a scoop over the secret U.S. negotiations with the Taliban. I respect him though I don’t necessarily agree with him. And Rashid’s points must be integrated into the U.S. and Western debate over Afghanistan.

Here’s the key section:

“The talks are premised on the essential realisation that neither a successful western withdrawal from Afghanistan nor a transition to Afghan forces can take place, without an end to the civil war and a political settlement that involves the Afghan government and the Taliban, but also Pakistan, the US and the region.”

Think about that, whether or not it is accurate. What Rashid is saying is that the U.S. government “knows” that it has to make a deal with the Taliban to withdraw from Afghanistan. And since the Obama Administration is eager to get out (for political reasons more than strategic ones), it has a strong need to reach agreement with the Taliban, which means that unilateral concessions are likely.

Rashid provides a detailed history of the talks and concludes:

“A former Taliban leader told me recently that `’the fundamental problem is between the US and the Taliban and we consider the Afghan government as the secondary problem.’…If that is the case and the Taliban would like to see an orderly western exit from Afghanistan, the media and governments must allow these talks to succeed.”

This reminds me of Vietnam and other places where a revolutionary group maintained that the government stands only because of foreign support. Eliminate the foreign support and the radicals will win. The local government is treated as a puppet that is of no significance.

The bottom line, though, is that the U.S. government is seeking a deal with the group that facilitated and aided the September 11 attacks. Of course, once Western forces are out of Afghanistan, the Taliban will restart its effort to seize state power and a demoralized Afghan government is more likely to collapse.

None of this is known to most Americans. If they were aware that their government’s hidden strategy in withdrawing is to make a deal with the Taliban, with September 11 blood on its hands, one wonders what their attitude would be.
(From the Lid)

According to latest reports ..

...such talks may be gaining momentum after the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday to treat al-Qaida and the Taliban separately when it comes to U.N. sanctions, a move aimed at supporting the Afghan government's reconciliation efforts.

Meanwhile, violence persists. Insurgents attacks targeted three convoys ferrying fuel and supplies to NATO troops in western and eastern Afghanistan over the weekend, killing nine Afghan security guards and torching at least 15 fuel tankers, officials said.
Ahmad Rashid's Comparison to Vietnam is particularly interesting. But not in the same way that Rashid describes. It seems as though dispited the gains made by our American Heroes in recent months, our President is looking for away to take away a possible victory and replace it with a "cut and run."

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1 comment:

adagioforstrings said...

I big problem with the Vietnam peace deal is that the US didn't live up to its obligations. The US promised the South Vietnamese that it would go back & defend it if the North violated the peace terms, which, of course, we didn't. Presumably, part of the peace deal with the Taliban will be that they eschew any future relations with Al Qaeda & if they violate those terms, the US will go back & remove them from power. It seems the US is heading for an agreement that if the Afghan government promises to only oppress its own people & leave us alone, then we'll reciprocate & leave them alone.