Friday, May 08, 2009

"Moderate" Taliban

The NYT Op-Ed today has an interesting article on the Taliban in Afghanistan. It's hard nowadays to remember way back in the fifties and sixties when Afghanistan was developing in a rapid manner in modernizing the country, giving equal rights and education to women. Almost fifty years later, it seems like the country has moved five centuries backwards.

The Op-Ed piece by Hassina Sherjan notes Obama's fatuous search for "moderate" Taliban thusly:
shortly after Mr. Obama raised the subject of reconciliation, the Taliban rejected his proposal, stating there were no extremists or moderate groups within their ranks. On this point at least, the Taliban are right. Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, put it very clearly: “The Taliban were united under the leadership of Mullah Muhammad Omar. All the fighters follow and obey orders of one central command. The existence of moderates and extremist elements within the rank and file of Taliban is wishful thinking of the West and the Afghan government.”

What can be the purpose of talks with the Taliban? These men deprive women of their rights, throw acid in the faces of schoolgirls, reject religious freedom and oppose constitutional democracy. They also threaten to kill any Afghans who have worked with Western militaries and nongovernmental groups or had other contact with foreigners.

Is it possible, as some have said, that the Taliban have mellowed since being toppled in 2001? Muhammad Ibrahim Hanafi, a top Taliban commander, answered that question in an interview in March with CNN: “Our law is still the same old law which was in place during our rule in Afghanistan.”

This attitude also holds true, mutatis mutandis, for neighboring Pakistan and Pres. Zardari's sad attempts to meet the Taliban halfway in the Swat Valley, which will simply be regarded as a sign of weakness and engender further pushes toward Islamabad. The Taliban know that if they keep pushing and using local terror tactics, the old New York bargaining mode of "what's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable" will deliver more chunks of territory into their hands. Pattycake diplomacy will not work, and Richard Holbrooke may not be tough enough to get the Paki government to do the necessary.

The naive, childlike projection by Obama of his own good intentions onto the vicious, medieval mindset of the Taliban would be laughable, were it not so pitiful. These are the criminals who aided and abetted Osama bin Laden in his attacks on the WTC and Washington, DC, which the liberal intelligentsia are trying to erase from our national memory. The Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan & Pakistan find a western echo in Hamas in the Gaza Strip and their Shi'ite counterparts in Hezbollah and Iran are just as remorseless, relentless, and single-minded.

Ms. Sherfan raises her voice, but it is unlikely that the Upper West Side readership of the NYT will find her admonitions welcome. They are ostrich-like in avoiding any confrontation with evil and the wishful thinking of the liberal mindset simply does not operate in the Islamic World. Her final plea is heartfelt, but likely to be ignored:
The only “reconciliation” strategy that is going to work is one between the Kabul government and the Afghan people. The key is making changes at the community level. Many local mullahs and citizens who have tolerated the Taliban in the past are open to working with a government that can protect them and help them find livelihoods. The government and its allies can best weaken the insurgency by better protecting the population, organizing local citizens’ groups to cooperate on economic development, and hiring more people from every part of the country into the growing Afghan Army and police force.

This is the only way that the reconcilables will be separated from the irreconcilables. We need to understand where Afghanistan’s true moderates are to be found, and not look for them in leadership positions of one of the most repressive organizations on earth.

Ditto for the Taliban in Pakistan, and their Shi'ite counterparts in Iran.

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