Friday, March 27, 2009

I think it's possible to dismantle Al-Qaeda, but probably not to win against the Taliban

I'll have to look at Obama's plan. These are two separate goals. The Taliban hosted Al-Qaeda, was the product of the same civil war that produced Bin Laden, but was not Al-Qaeda. I think that the Taliban truce in northwest Pakistan is probably going to be the way of the future in the region, with limited concessions to the Taliban happening in exchange for a ceasefire. With Al-Qaeda figures being a liability to the Taliban, if it was communicated to them that they'd be able to retain their territory in exchange for giving up Al-Qaeda figures, it may be very attractive for them.

*on edit: it seems that there will be engagement with moderate Taliban. There's also folks dedicated to economic development going to Afghanistan, which is a good thing. People have compared this to the Surge in Iraq, but I don't think that's appropriate. While on paper the Surge was supposed to be about winning hearts and minds, I have yet to see evidence that it consisted of much more than additional troops kicking people's ass. The international press seemed to think there was something to the hearts and minds component, but here in the U.S. the coverage was solely about an escalation of violence on the part of the military. I'd love to see some articles from U.S. newspapers suggesting that hearts and minds was actually the case, and I invite you to publish them here in the comments section, but my guess is that the 'kill 'em all' crowd dwarfed the number of articles suggesting that any constructive help was being given.

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