:::POST UPDATE, 11/24/09:::
Steve Schippert posts that the US Embassy in Kabul denies this story. Like Steve, I’ll take them at their word. We’ll see soon enough. -admin:::END UPDATE:::
I am not sure what to make of this, but my first gut-instinct is, “oh, please, don’t appease.”
Steve Schippert over at Threats Watch keeps an eye on all those places I refer to as “guy sites” (well, they never have recipes) and he writes:
It comes to our attention that the MEMRI Blog highlights an article from the Saudi _al-Watan_ in Arabic that – according to an Afghan source – the United States is talking to the Taliban seeking to trade control of 5 provinces in exchange for the cessation of attacks on US bases. MEMRI summarizes:
An Afghan source in Kabul reports that U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry is holding secret talks with Taliban elements headed by the movement’s foreign minister, Ahmad Mutawakil, at a secret location in Kabul. According to the source, the U.S. has offered the Taliban control of the Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, Kunar and Nuristan provinces in return for a halt to the Taliban missile attacks on U.S. bases.
Kunar province borders the Khyber Pass region where the majority of US and NATO supplies pass enroute from Pakistan. And the4 remaining four provinces constitute fully the southern 25% of Afghanistan’s territory.
This, if true, is a disturbing development.
I have tried to come up with scenarios of why someone would lie about it in a leak. What would be to gain? Who would gain, and what would they gain? Without sleeping on it, the options for such appear narrow at best.
What does seem logical is that an Afghan privy to the negotiations could have become (rightly) spooked that they might just pull it off, and leaked word in hopes that it might so anger American public opinion that the entire endeavor might be scrapped. That’s the most logical explanation for motivation I see at the moment.
It would also fit in consistently with Ambassador Eikenberry’s leaked cables recently railing against a ‘surge’ in forces in Afghanistan. He wouldn’t voice such without thinking he has his hands on something else. Could this be it? The surrender of 25% of Afghan territory in exchange for some form of ceasefire?
One would hope not.
I am sure it is all much more complicated, much more “nuanced” than any of us could possibly realize, but to a layperson like me, one question matters: did the president, who called Afghanistan “the war of necessity mean it when he said -only weeks ago- that the war in Afghanistan was “crucial” to the safety of Americans, or was he blowing smoke, looking for the most expedient way to pull out of an action he appears to have no stomach to fight?
If America cuts a deal with the Taliban, giving them control over regions in exchange for their keeping Al Qaeda in check, she instantly confers credibility upon them – at least for as long as America’s credibility remains. Can they be trusted? If the Taliban can be trusted -and recall, Democrats have used the example of these human-rights-oppressing religious fanatics to characterize Republicans, so their sudden trustworthiness is both convenient and suspect- can they, in a theater as large as Afghanistan, actually disallow and prevent Al Qaeda from using that vast land-of-caves as their planning and training base?
I suggest the Taliban will not be able to keep its end of this face-saving bargain, and that the whole tactic is simply a way to blow smoke in front of our faces.
Understand, it’s not that I love war; I don’t. I hate war. But pulling out of a theater before accomplishing the serious goal of utterly disabling an enemy and coaxing their surrender does two very detrimental things in war:
First, it sends a message that resonates to an enemy like Al Qaeda, which understands only power: we are again a weak horse.
Second: It tells the families who have lost sons and daughters in Afghanistan that their loved ones deaths were in vain, because the enemy is still able to thrive and nothing has changed.
Schippert writes: “. . . this demonstrated type of ‘effort’ in Afghanistan would prove to be the strongest indication that it may be time to advocate the full pullout of American forces from Afghanistan.”
Can’t say I disagree. If we’re not serious enough about victory to give the Generals on the ground what they say they need in order to win, if we do not have the stones to surge -even the example of its positive outcome in Iraq- then let’s just bring our troops home, rather than leave them there without a strong sense of mission, a declining morale, and the possibility of slaughter by a newly emboldened foe.
We’ll find out soon enough, then, whether winning in Afghanistan was “crucial” to the safety of the United States. But at least we’ll all find out together.
Four Troops Die in Afghanistan; some 200 have died since August. Somehow military deaths don’t get the headlines like they used to.
Iraq confronts Syria over Terrorism while US Dithers. That’s interesting. Iraq could be a powerful ally, if we don’t fold.
From UK Telegraph: Taliban says “Cut us a deal”
Pakistan: Yes, talk to Taliban!
Der Spiegel: Obama’s Nice Guy Act Gets Him Nowhere on World Stage. No, he’s restored our standing. He said so!
Obama treated Asia like a Campaign Stop: It is all he knows how to do
Michelle Malkin: 9/11 Trials will be Platform to Bash USA
Money-obsessed Congress: A War Surtax because after we pay off the special interests, takeover banks and corporations, fund the pork, and buy the votes of Mary Landrieu and Blanch Lincoln, there’s nothing left. At least it is a tax I can support.
Obama hearts Hollywood: It’s so much more fun to be a celebrity than to be president