We’re engaged in a reconciliation process. Whether it will work or not is another question. But we are in a position where if Afghanistan ceased and desisted from being a haven for people who do damage and have as a target the United States of America and their allies, that’s good enough. That’s good enough. We’re not there yet.
Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical. There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests. If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us. So there’s a dual track here:
One, continue to keep the pressure on al Qaeda and continue to diminish them. Two, put the government in a position where they can be strong enough that they can negotiate with and not be overthrown by the Taliban. And at the same time try to get the Taliban to move in the direction to see to it that they, through reconciliation, commit not to be engaged with al Qaeda or any other organization that they would harbor to do damage to us and our allies.
That from Joe Biden, in an interview with Newsweek last Thursday. The White House yesterday doubled down on the idiocy when White House press secretary Jay Carney got into it with Jake Tapper:
Carney: “I think it is important — I know you’ve written about this — to understand what most Americans I think know, which is that we didn’t invade Afghanistan, we did not send U.S. military personnel into Afghanistan because the Taliban were in power. They had been in power. We sent — we went into Afghanistan because al-Qaeda had launched an attack against the United States from Afghanistan. “And what the vice president was reflecting is that, and this is related to the reconciliation process that I was just discussing, is that the Taliban per se, while we are fighting them, it is not the elimination, the elimination of the Taliban is not the issue here. The objective that the president laid out when he laid out his Afghanistan strategy made clear that the number one principle here is to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately to defeat al-Qaeda, as well as help stabilize Afghanistan. And that’s what we’re doing. “Part of that process is our support for the Afghan-led reconciliation talks. The conditions for reconciliation for the Taliban are very clear. But reconciliation has to be a part of the long-term process in Afghanistan if Afghanistan is going to evolve into a peaceful country.”
Tapper: “I understand that. Obviously, there isn’t much of an al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan. Leon Panetta, when he was CIA director, told me a year or two ago that there are fewer than 100 al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. We’ve been devoting a great deal of blood and treasure, focused almost entirely on defeating Taliban insurgents, Taliban fighters. I understand that ultimately that there is going to have to be some sort of reconciliation. I just wonder if the language was regrettable at all.
Carney: “It’s only regrettable when taken out of context that I just explained. It’s regrettable to present it out of context because it is a simple fact that we went into Afghanistan because of the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. We are there now to ultimately defeat al-Qaeda, to stabilize Afghanistan and stabilize it in part so that al-Qaeda or other terrorists who have as their aim attacks on the United States cannot establish a foothold again in that country. So what is also completely clear is that Afghanistan’s future has to include within it reconciliation, and that is why we support the Afghan government-led effort there.”
Here’s what President Bush said to a joint session of Congress 9 days after the 9/11 attacks:
And tonight, the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban: Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of Al Qaida who hide in your land. Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats, and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating. These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.
Seems to me the Taliban are/were indeed our enemy.
No per se about it.