Moral Low Ground

War & Peace

Karzai: U.S. in Peace Talks with Taliban

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the United States is talking peace with the Taliban, the first high-level confirmation that Washington is engaged in such activity.

The BBC reports that Karzai said “foreign military and especially the US itself” were involved in the talks.

“In the course of this year, there have been peace talks with the Taliban and our own countrymen,” Karzai said at a Kabul news conference today. “Peace talks have started with them already and it is going well. Foreign militaries, especially the United States of America, are going ahead with these negotiations.”

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already indicated that such talks could begin by the end of this year. The US is scheduled to begin withdrawing its 97,000 troops from Afghanistan next month, with a gradual handover of security operations to Afghan forces by 2014.

The fact that the US is negotiating with the Taliban is important for reasons beyond the obvious. It proves that either the Taliban are not terrorists as Washington once claimed– for why would the US negotiate with that which we have vowed to destroy?, or that Washington, emboldened by its assassination of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, is seeking an “honorable” exit from a war it knows it will never win.  The US public has also grown wary of a decade-long war with ill-defined goals in a land where no foreign invader has emerged victorious since the Mongols rode through in medieval times.

While the peace talks are good news for the Afghan people, there is also reason to be wary. After peace negotiations to end the Vietnam War began in 1972, the US launched a brutal terror bombing campaign of 4,000 sorties against heavily populated North Vietnamese urban centers, killing, maiming and wounding thousands.

This time, however, it was the Taliban who escalated hostilities. Within hours of Karzai’s announcement, suicide bombers struck a police station near the finance ministry in the heart of the capital, Kabul. Nine people were killed. Insurgents also attacked two NATO convoys in Ghanzi province, in the east, killing nine Afghan security guards.

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