Talk with the Taliban, Just Leave Your Troops at Home
Over the weekend, President Obama confirmed what many Get Afghanistan Right bloggers, myself included, have been saying for months: resolving the war in Afghanistan will require negotiating with elements of the Taliban. 17,000 more troops will be "a drop in the bucket," as Andrew Bacevich has said, if the US doesn't engage in regional diplomacy.
Mr. Obama said on the campaign trail last year that the possibility of breaking away some elements of the Taliban “should be explored,” an idea also considered by some military leaders. But now he has started a review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan intended to find a new strategy, and he signaled that reconciliation could emerge as an important initiative, mirroring the strategy used by Gen. David H. Petraeus in Iraq.
Granted, the Obama administration has acknowledged that it is far more complicated to reach out to moderate Taliban factions than it was to negotiate with nationalist Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq. Yet the fact that the Obama administration is pursuing this diplomatic strategy at all is a step in the right direction to Rethink Afghanistan. As The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss notes in his must-read piece on the Taliban, we should have been talking with them all along.