U.S. in talks with Taliban - Macleans.ca

U.S. in talks with Taliban

Defense secretary confirms negotiations aimed at ending war


U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has confirmed the U.S. is currently in talks with the Taliban with a view to ending the war in Afghanistan. Gates says the talks are still preliminary and that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of the year at least in order to keep military pressure on the Taliban. “Real reconciliation talks are not likely to be able to make substantive headway until at least this winter,” Gates says. “I think the Taliban have to feel themselves under military pressure and begin to believe they can’t win before they are willing to have a serious conversation.” Gates recently announced he would be stepping down after serving as defense secretary under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

New York Times

Filed under:

U.S. in talks with Taliban

  1. “Let us not negotiate from fear, but let us not fear to negotiate.” John F. Kennedy uttered these bons mots at the height of the Cold War, but the war on terror threatens to be at least as long as the state of tensions that existed between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. 

    We find ourself in a position like the United Nations Command at Panmunjon during the Korean War. The North Koreans and the Chinese left the bargaining table a few times to launch “one more offensive” before they tried again to find a negotiated settlement to the Korean War. Therefore, the Taliban may have a few more spring offensives to get out of their systems before they are truly ready to talk peace, or at least agree to a truce.  

    Let us not deceive ourselves: negotiating an end to the war on terror is more than a little like tiptoeing through a minefield with a ball and chain around your ankle. Very easy to get shot at, and very easy to set off an improvised explosive device with the ball and chain. Anybody who has every tried to flea bomb a house knows that, if even one flea escapes the chemical onslaught, all your efforts are naught. The theory behind guerrilla warfare is this: the last person standing wins the war. 

    If there’s any analogy to the Cold War, perhaps it’s the Boer War. When the Boers surrendered at Vereeniging in 1901, it seemed like the British Empire had won, just like it seemed that the West won with the fall of the Berlin Wall. I’m sure that Oxford dons were even crowing about the “End of History,” like Cold Warriors here in the West. 

    But here we are at the Graveyard of Empires, doing our best not to buy a cemetary plot.