with the Taliban has long been advocated by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan
president, and the British and Pakistani governments, but resisted by
The Guardian has learned that while the American
government is still officially resistant to the idea of talks with
Taliban leaders, behind the scenes a shift is under way and Washington
is encouraging Karzai to take a lead in such negotiations.
is a change of mindset in DC,” a senior official in Washington said.
“There is no military solution. That means you have to find something
else. There was something missing.”
That missing element was talks with the Taliban leadership, the official added.
American rethink comes in the aftermath of the departure last month of
General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan.
Obama, apparently frustrated at the way the war is going, has reminded
his national security advisers that while he was on the election
campaign trail in 2008, he had advocated talking to America’s enemies.
It’s about frakking time. That war is clearly unwinnable in the classic sense: the best that can be hoped for is that the Taliban won’t overrun the country. No central Afghan government has ever controlled the entire country and none ever will, it’s topographically impossible. Geography is destiny: there will be always be rebels in the hills shooting down at the government in places like Colombia and Afghanistan.
I’m glad that Obama is reviving his strongly stated campaign position that to make peace anywhere in the world one must talk to one’s adversaries. One reason the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is all process and no peace is that both sides want to dictate who they’ll negotiate with. You cannot pick your negotiating partners. If Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern and the loyalists and nationalists were able to end the Troubles in Northern Ireland, anything is possible. Northern Ireland should have been Blair’s legacy BUT unfortunately for all concerned Iraq defined his government.
British Prime Minister David (Call me Dave) Cameron will be meeting with Obama this week and will surely have his back on this point. It’s time to start winding things down in Afghanistan and if we need to use General Petraeus’ surge thingee as cover, so be it. I’m glad that after years of nonsense, tentative moves towards a more sensible policy are being made. It’s time for us to go.
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