With Islamic riots, skyrocketing deficits, and state-skipping Democratic legislators hogging the headlines, this item has not yet gotten the attention it deserves. Steve Coll writes in The New Yorker, “The Obama Administration has entered into direct, secret talks with senior Afghan Taliban leaders, several people briefed about the talks told me last week.” Obama mentioned reaching out to “Taliban moderates” in 2009, only to drop the idea after public backlash. Apparently, the Obama administration has decided now is the time it wishes to look weak, hopeless, and pathetic.
Hillary Clinton detailed the American stance before a meeting of the Asia Society recently. She emphasized that if the Taliban returned to its history of repression and terror incubation, it would risk being branded “an enemy of the international community.” Mullah Omar and his buddies must be shaking in their turbans.
Hillary tried to calm the situation, saying, “I know that reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the Taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable.” But she insisted, this is what Reagan would do.
She attributed her policy to Ronald Reagan and Richard Holbrooke. The lesson she and Obama learned from The Gipper is that peace does not come by only speaking with one’s friends. “President Reagan understood that when he sat down with the Soviets. And Richard Holbrooke made this his life’s work. He negotiated face to face with Milosevic and ended a war.”
Reagan refused to hold a single summit with the Soviet Union until Gorbachev took the helm, famously joking, “I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that would outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Richard Holbrooke’s foreign policy ripped Kosovo from Serbia and turned it over to the Kosovo Liberation Army, an affiliate of al-Qaeda armed by Iran, which has since mercilessly persecuted the nation’s Christian population.
Totally Hopeless, Totally Clueless
The New Yorker writes things are worse than this. At this point, the American negotiators do not even know which members of the Taliban’s leadership would want to negotiate, “if any.” Our goal is “to persuade at least some important Taliban leaders to break with Al Qaeda.” Moreover, President Hamid Karzai has been carrying out “sporadic” talks with the Taliban since 2008 with zero tangible results.
The Clintons’ History of Surrender
Going, hat-in-hand, in the hopes someday someone in the Taliban might allow you to negotiate terms of surrender does not convey the hope of peace; it conveys weakness and gives them hope of reclaiming their nation. History is on their side. In April 1998, the Clinton administration sent Bill Richardson to Afghanistan to convince the Northern Alliance to accept a ceasefire agreement against the Taliban. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher later recounted, “I cannot stress this more forcefully: it was a pivotal moment. The Taliban could easily have been defeated.”
The Clintons talked our allies into stopping short. The ceasefire lasted one month, long enough for the Taliban to recover and take over the country. Thirteen years later, Hillary and her boss seem ready to repeat this history.
One additional point should be made. Now that they’ve been published in The New Yorker, these talks can hardly be described as “secret.” The Obama administration can’t even manage quiet surrender properly.