Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Perspectives on Engaging with the Taliban

Carlotta Gall reports in this morning's New York Times (here) about differing perspectives, within and outside Afghanistan, on attempts to reconcile with the Taliban.

Gall implies that Hamid Karzai is "all talk - little action" when it comes to the Taliban. Karzai's one explicit commitment is that he'll hold a "traditional tribal gathering," if re-elected, in order to discuss peace proposals; Taliban members and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar would be invited to the gathering.

Other perspectives:
  • Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani (more about them here) are both focusing on the issue of engaging the Taliban and advocating a local focus: reaching out to local leaders in order to address their grievances.

  • Kai Ede, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, is pushing for a comprehensive (top-down?) a solution. Ede says "There are those who believe you can do it locally, from province to province, district to district ... I don’t think that is the case, I think you have to have a wider process."

  • The US and NATO -- according to Gall -- want to consolidate/strengthen their military position prior to fully engaging the Taliban.
It's interesting that Gall reports that the Obama Administration wants to "negotiate from a position of strength." Typically Obama's focus is on diplomacy, but this article is further evidence that he is really committed to the military aspect of the effort in Afghanistan.

285. Why does Obama think fighting, there, can solve their/our problems, when his focus is on talking elsewhere?

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