And you all laughed -

And you all laughed


Jack Layton, Sept. 1, 2006. “A comprehensive peace process has to bring all the combatants to the table.”

New York Times, today. Afghanistan’s president declared Thursday that reaching out to the Taliban’s leaders should be a centerpiece of efforts to end the eight-year-old war there, setting in motion a delicate diplomatic process that will carry great risks for both Afghanistan and the United States.


Andrew Coyne, Sept. 2, 2006. Leave aside what there is to negotiate with the Taliban. (Perhaps we’ll only stone some of the homosexuals to death? Every third school to be burnt to the ground?) Is it to be imagined that they would be content with a share of power, a portion of the territory? The most extreme exponents of an apocalyptically extremist sect, a movement absolutely devoted to the absolute necessity of absolute rule, in which the church-state regulates everyday life down to the most insignificant detail? That Taliban?

Christie Blatchford, Sept. 4, 2006. I wonder how he might actually swing it, were he the PM and that process was starting today. Would he chide the “combatants” (“Bad Taliban!”) even as he welcomed them to the peace talks? Would he pull out the chairs for their representatives? Would he pour the tea for those who have killed 23 Canadian soldiers this year?

Peter MacKay, Sept. 6, 2006. “Is it next going to be tea with Osama Bin Laden? This cannot happen.”

Rick Mercer, Sept. 6, 2006. Speaking of the short bus I see that Jack Layton has distinguished himself on the international front by coming up with a solution for the Afghanistan situation. Jack is calling for peace talks with the Taliban. About time the NDP get back to their more loony roots. For a while there they were coming off all semi-sensible.

Condoleeza Rice, Sept. 13, 2006. “These are people who whipped women in stadiums given to them by the international community to play soccer; who refused to let women learn to read. The Taliban made Afghanistan a failed state and a terrorist haven for al-Qaida so that they could launch the Sept. 11th attack. What’s to negotiate?”


And you all laughed

  1. I never laughed! Jack was right except for the withdraw immediately part – this would have affected our NATO committments – we will do as we should finish our rotation then say bye bye .. no cutting and running in canada – by the way folks if you mention cutting and running it is NOT cutting and running if you schedule ahead of time – that particular web forum complaint don't hold water!

  2. Indeed, many pointed out his point was valid and could come to pass in the future.

    It's a good thing our current government holds very little stock in keeping its word, or it could find itself in a bit of a bind about now..

  3. Er, Wherry, just because some other idiots have turned to this strategy does not make it right. And what will these jobs be anyway? If they wanted jobs or were capable of taking jobs, and the jobs existed today, then this would not be necessary.

    Simply bribing them is going to create huge opportunities for abuse and corruption.

  4. And of course anyone who suggested a military solution was not likely was called a a pacifist and/or a Taliban supporter. I look forward to the crow eating.

  5. Simply bribing them is going to create huge opportunities for abuse and corruption.

    Heaven knows we wouldn't want to inflict abuse or corruption on that virtuous and democratic country, Afghanistan.

  6. Create abuse and corruption.? This must be Coyne-like satire.

  7. God is glad to see that the Conservative Party has adopted the NDP approach to fighting wars.

    God knows that they adopted the NDP position on payroll taxes, state sponsored abortion, the stimulus and cutting and running from Afghanistan.

    • The Conservative Party of Canada – the NDP in a hurry.

      • The Conservative Party of Canada = the NDP in the slow lane

  8. Score card, get your score card! Can't tell the players without a score card!

    Al-Qaeda (expat terrorists and adventurers); Taliban (madrassa-recruited religious militiamen); tribal forces from regions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, etc.; opium armies and crime syndicates … All of these are players.

    That our political leaders and media continue to lump all the "brown guys with guns" together under one moniker doesn't make it true and has contributed to this (most recent) 8-year cock-up of a policy in the region.

    Reminds me when I was a pup in early '90s and … had to deal with the exact same thing (if you substituted the MAK for Al-Qaeda).

  9. Afghanistan's president was the one who suggested "reaching out to leaders". He's the one who agrees with Layton.

    Clinton was talking about something quite different: "reintegration: luring lower- and mid-level Taliban fighters back into society with offers of jobs, money, and protection from Taliban reprisal".

    • You raise another point. Laytons proposal was about Nato ignoring the Karzai government and dealing with the Taliban over the heads of the Afghani government. Karzai has long advocated talking to moderate Taliban, essentially those not involved with al Queda and those willing to put down their arms.

      • "Laytons proposal was about Nato ignoring the Karzai government and dealing with the Taliban over the heads of the Afghani government."

        No, it wasn't.

  10. Dear Lord, this is something of a breakthrough.

  11. I think I wrote "create opportunities". Perhaps I should have been more pedantic and wrote "create new opportunities", since the country is riddled with abuse and corruption, much of it flowing directly from the existing aid programs.

  12. God hears that Harper is going to make his caucus sing 'solidarity forever' before the house sits each week.

    • And grow a mustache.

    • are you taking questions while you are here?

  13. Timing is everything…it's amazing what a difference 4 years in politics can make! Now if only jack were running for office 4 years down the road. All snark aside…good on ya Jack!

    Toooo many absolutes in Coynes piece. When is that man ever gonna learn to write satire?

    • YOu should have seen his piece "Why Canada NEEDS abortion laws".

  14. From the archives …

    By: Sisyphus
    Thursday, November 06, 2008 1:59 AM
    It also shows how the insurgency is primarily a Pushtan initiative. Other areas away from the Pakistani border area with strong populations of Uzbeks and Hazaris are relatively quiet. It's not clear (to me) what kind of development effort is going on in those areas that might be more amenable to an aid/development emphasis.

    The Taliban is portrayed as disparate groups united by an extreme religious views. They are probably more than that. But I don't see their views as being more extreme than the general Pushtan population which makes the possibility of isolating them very difficult.

    One of the secrets (not so secret) of their success is their dominance of the poppy fields.
    That gives them the cash to actually pay their soldiers. Which really matters in a land that lives hand to mouth. But it also means that substantial numbers of the insurgency are not fully committed volunteers but are a kind of condottieri that may, at some point, be open to a better offer.

    It's possible to foresee a time – a few years away – when a variation of an Iraqi solution might be available. Spread enough cash around to keep things quiet enough to get troops out and give Karzai a condo in Monaco.

  15. Has everyone missed the point that ALL conflict eventually ends with negotiations? Does anyone really think that the resolution of this mess can come WITHOUT the participation of all major players? And does anyone think that a campaign to eradicate all "Taliban" would be successful and NOT lead to more recruitment to the "Taliban"?


    • Why do you hate the troops, Martin Levenson?

      • I assume you're being ironic. A good friend of mine who actually served in Afghanistan with the PRT got in a spot of bother for suggesting that negotiations with the Taliban were inevitable. Luckily, this was just at the same time that Layton laid his egg, so the story didn't get picked up. My friend's observation was that it's very difficult to seperate the Taliban from the village elders; you don't necessarily know if you are actually talking to Taliban or Taliban sympathizers when you talk to the village elders. That was his experience, anyway.

        I don't hate the troops. They do what they're told to do, and I wouldn't want their job. What I "hate" is poorly thought out strategies and directives from their political masters.

    • Murders are presently sitting across from murders in N. Ireland i the gov't as we speak.

      • sigh…murderers.

  16. Intellectuals are obviously even more dangerous since they can PREDICT THE FUTURE. Burn them!

    Just kidding, I love Jack and am NDP to the core. Once again he put forward a viable and sensible theory only to be laughed at by those who live and die by sound bytes. Right now, the NDP is the only party in Canada that is interested in governing rather than using office to campaign; oh wait, the Conservatives aren't even IN their offices… my.

  17. I think we should just call them Taliban Petraeus, Taliban Obama and Taliban Brown

  18. Howard Zinn died. Sad day.

    If we paid as much attention to the Howard Zinns of the world rather than the list of …. miscreants above, then the world would be a better place and Layton's perfectly acceptable political position would have been debated rather than ridiculed.

  19. I figure – if the war birds had thought seriously about the situation – and paid the farmers to grow crops other than poppies we might a) not be in this unenviable situation and b) giving Mr. Layton more credit as a visonary that he frankly does not deserve!

  20. Can you point me to a fuller elaboration of his proposal at the time. I am willing to say that was my impression at the time and it may have been misplaced. I remember my reaction at the time was that it wasnt our place to undercut the Afghan government, but that should they choose to enter those negotiations that was there business.
    But once again I could be wrong, it was a many years ago

    • Layton proposed a "comphrehensive peace process". I suspect this was kept deliberately vague so as not to foreclose any particular option–after all it's not as if the NDP dictates US, Canadian, Afghan and NATO policy. Layton did give several speeches and interviews putting the proposal in context, but the media were so dismissive of his idea that there was little analysis of what he actually said.

      As to the specific issue of whether Layton wanted to go "over the heads of the Afghani government", there was no such suggestion. Karzai is on record as far back as November of 2006 as saying he would negotiate, not only with moderate Taliban, but with Mullad Omar himself. The "backgrounder" below that I found on the NDP website said that Layton had "called for peace negotiations to reach a political solution—alongside Afghan President Karzai…".

      The idea that Layton was suggesting we big foot the Afghan government was repeatedly used as a convenient excuse to dismiss him, but had no basis in fact.

  21. I think this retrospective is great, but let's remember there was no good reason to treat this position with such ridicule at the time.

    As polls showed way back in those days (linked below), 63% of Canadians SUPPORTED negotiating with the Taliban.

  22. Now that the Taliban has stuffed this back in Karzai's face, can we return to sanity and just concentrate on pummeling rather than negotiating with them?

  23. You left out this charming remark from the list:

    Elizabeth May: “There's something wrong with Jack Layton if he'd rather open up discussions with the Taliban than the Green Party.”