Refusal to negotiate with terrorists has been a stern US policy for quite some time but the Obama administration has been quietly replacing it with a softer approach that has yet to deliver positive results. This softer approach failed with Iran, producing only more arrogance and aggressiveness, but the Obama administration seems intent on using it with the Taliban.
News that Talilban “insurgents” (terrorists?) may agree to open a representative office in Qatar is being welcomed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration. While negotiations and talks with any enemy in attempts to stop violence make sense, bribing them to talk doesn’t. It is hard to see Obama’s latest gambit as anything more than hopeful bribery.
Talks are underway to release five Taliban prisoners from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in return for the proposed Taliban “headquarters” in Qatar. The hope is that the Taliban will cut ties with al-Qaida, accept the elected civilian government of Afghanistan, and bargain in good faith. The five released prisoners will most probably be allowed to return to fighting the US on the Afghan battlefield.
Fortunately, the US maintains that it will not back off its Afghan military campaign while it “negotiates”, but that can easily fall by the wayside. It is not hard to imagine a “declaration” of an end to the Afghan war resulting from promises made by ruthless terrorists, especially when the US has five released terrorists invested in the process. The political incentive of placating a far-left base in time for November elections could sweeten the pot.
Iran praised and welcomed Obama’s policy of diplomacy which was used as a stalling tactic that allowed continuance of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It would be naïve and foolish to think the Taliban are above such tactics. Once it becomes recognized that the US is willing to negotiate and pay ransom, there will be other demands from other “organizations”. This could set a precedent that can get very ugly, very fast.
David J. Hentosh