Ralph Peters has an interesting column on Afghanistan in today’s New York Post. Peters directly addresses the difficulties of negotiating with the Taliban.
THE TALKING TRAP: AFGHAN FOLLIES
By Ralph Peters, New York Post, November 13, 2008
NEGOTIATIONS are the heroin of the chattering classes, blinding them to every reality except the next fix they can inject into our foreign policy. The pushers – our delighted enemies – pile up strategic profits.
Certainly, there are situations in which negotiations make sense, such as structuring trade terms or defining alliance contributions. But the notion that, if only we can sit down with our enemies, we’ll inevitably persuade them to love us is a deadly self-delusion.
There’s a looming danger that President-elect Obama’s naive and profoundly anti-military cadres will misinterpret Gen. David Petraeus’ tactic of opening communications with Taliban elements and seek to make talks the centerpiece of the new administration’s Afghan policy. If so, we might as well pack up and leave now.
No American soldier should die just so diplomats can rack up frequent-flyer miles.
Negotiations during a conflict only work to our advantage when we’re in a position of strength that threatens the enemy’s existence or when bloodied opponents have wearied of the fight. Both conditions applied in Iraq.
They don’t apply in Afghanistan. In Iraq, al Qaeda had worn out its welcome. The Sunni Arabs wanted our help. In Afghanistan, Taliban-style Islamist fanaticism has a deep constituency. While most Afghans don’t want the Taliban back, a fierce minority does. And, unlike Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, the Taliban think they can win.
The equation is simple: We kill them, or we lose. Fighting fanatics is a zero-sum game.