Thursday, 27 December 2007

Talking To The Taliban

Before the news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto overtook events, the scorn was aimed at MI6 and the EU representatives for daring to hold talks with members of the Taliban.
I assume the people most outraged are the same ones who howled in horror when we met with the IRA, or with Gadaffi, or Kim Jong il. Of course we have to meet with these people because otherwise the only solution is military and with over 5000 people killed in Afghanistan in 2007, most of them civilians, that should be an option we seek to end immediately.
The Taliban are from from what anyone could describe as an ideal Government but prior to 2001 and the granting of safe haven to Bin Laden, the Taliban were not on most peoples list of bogeymen. The US were on more than friendly terms in the late nineties when meeting to discuss the proposed oil pipeline running through Afghanistan and even offered to go home and leave the Taliban in control of the country if they handed over Bin Laden.
Post 2001, the Taliban leadership has become a more hardcore ideological group but the main body are little more than cannon fodder, prepared to scratch the back of anyone prepared to make them a better offer and that should be our plan. Offer a better way out for the vast majority who have no affiliation to the former Government and are just in it for the money.
After 6 years there is a military stalemate with neither side winning and only the death toll advancing so we should be talking and making deals to our perceived enemies until support for the Taliban is scaled back far enough for it to be not considered a threat to the countries security.
The only alternative is the continued killing and hoping we can kill them quicker than they can recruit new members and chancing that we don't inadvertently take out innocent citizens as we do it therefore improving the appeal to young Afghans bent on revenge.
As we seen many times before, it does not matter how many troops we put on the ground, how many lives we expend be they ours, there's or civilians, the fight will go on and on until we change our direction because the talking option is the only one the we have left unless you are one of those who actually advocate an endless war from the safety of your own armchair.


Daniel said...

Endless war = endless profits, Lucy.

Unfortunately that's the way our world is with America right in the forefront of armament production and sales (65%).


Cheezy said...

I absolutely agree. The double standards and idiocy involved in making pronouncements about who you won't talk to absolutely staggers me...

Where does it all stem from? Perhaps it's been extrapolated from that old theory that you should never negotiate with kidnappers? That in itself is a sound idea - it only tends to encourage more kidnappings...

But the Taliban, on the other hand... they may be a nutty & unpleasant group... but they're not simply a bunch of kidnappers. They're a group we require a political solution with. Just like the hardcore Shia and Sunni groups in Iraq.

Some people are patting themselves on the back at the moment that the death toll in Iraq has come down from 'apocalyptically high' to merely 'bloody as hell' but, just like in Afghanistan (and Palestine too, lest we forget), without a political solution the killing will go on and on. And political solutions are only ever achieved by talking.

And, of course, I recall that we were all more than happy to talk to a terrorist like Bin Ladin when he was a thorn in the Soviet arse, rather than in our own.

Stephen said...

I think you're right. Ultimately, there will have to be a political solution. We're not going to defeat them militarily, nor will they us.