The Corner

Talking to the Taliban Has Backfired

Last night, the British embassy in Kabul hosted an Iftar party on the occasion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The guest list included senior ex-members of the Taliban regime. One photo from the event shows British ambassador William Patey posing cheerfully with Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban’s former ambassador to Pakistan.  

The Taliban’s response to the embassy’s goodwill gesture is telling. Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers stormed the British Council office in Kabul this morning, killing at least eight Afghan policemen and taking over the compound for several hours. The Taliban’s spokesman said the group carried out the attack to mark the anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from Great Britain in 1919.

With public support for the war in Afghanistan at an all-time low, U.S. and NATO military and civilian officials are desperately trying to reconcile with the Taliban to end the decade-long war in the country. Pres. Hamid Karzai’s government, too, is increasingly focusing on reconciliation with the Taliban at the expense of alienating ethnic minority leaders, who are rearming in fear of a Taliban comeback. But appeasement and unilateral concessions to the Taliban — such as freeing Taliban prisoners, removing their leaders from an international sanctions list, and offering Taliban leaders senior positions in the government — have not only failed to change the Taliban’s behavior but have also emboldened the terrorist group. Recently, the Taliban has stepped up violence and assassinations of government officials and further deepened ties with international terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

In his June 22 troop-withdrawal speech, President Obama stressed the need for a “political settlement” in Afghanistan and added that “America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban.” U.S. officials were optimistic that their “confidence-building” talks with Tayeb Agha, a former bodyguard of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, will lead to a diplomatic breakthrough with the Taliban. But the talks have stalled as Tayeb Agha has disappeared. Last year, a senior Taliban leader transported in a NATO helicopter to Kabul for peace talks turned out to be an impostor — a shopkeeper from Quetta, in Pakistan.

Today’s attack indicates that the policy of appeasing the Taliban has failed. Diplomatic engagement with the Taliban will not produce any results until the terrorist group is defeated militarily. One-sided engagement policy is not an exit strategy but a recipe for failure. It bolsters insurgents’ confidence, divides and weakens the Afghan government, and gives incentives to Pakistan to continue backing the Taliban for its “strategic depth” once foreign troops leave the country.

— Ahmad Majidyar is a senior research associate at the American Enterprise Institute.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Hillbilly Elegy: Ron Howard’s Inverted Mayberry

Hollywood knows two registers when it comes to the white working class (WWC): sentimentalizing and condescending. WWCs are either cute, neighborly, and folksy, or they constitute a tawdry, alien life form. There are 130 million WWCs in our country, and yet nobody in Hollywood has the slightest grasp of them. With ... Read More
Film & TV

Hillbilly Elegy: Ron Howard’s Inverted Mayberry

Hollywood knows two registers when it comes to the white working class (WWC): sentimentalizing and condescending. WWCs are either cute, neighborly, and folksy, or they constitute a tawdry, alien life form. There are 130 million WWCs in our country, and yet nobody in Hollywood has the slightest grasp of them. With ... Read More

The Rural Way

Almost every national Election Night reveals the same old red/blue map. The country geographically is a sea of red. The coasts and small areas along the southern border and around the Great Lakes remain blue atolls. Yet when the maps are recalibrated for population rather than area, the blue areas blow up, ... Read More

The Rural Way

Almost every national Election Night reveals the same old red/blue map. The country geographically is a sea of red. The coasts and small areas along the southern border and around the Great Lakes remain blue atolls. Yet when the maps are recalibrated for population rather than area, the blue areas blow up, ... Read More
The Capital Note

Palantir’s Eye-Popping Rally

Welcome to the Capital Note, a newsletter about business, finance and economics. On the menu today: Palantir shares skyrocket, a giant of labor economics passes away, Slack in acquisition talks with Salesforce, and Yellen’s plans for Treasury-Fed cooperation. The Palantir Bump: Politics or Product? Palantir, ... Read More
The Capital Note

Palantir’s Eye-Popping Rally

Welcome to the Capital Note, a newsletter about business, finance and economics. On the menu today: Palantir shares skyrocket, a giant of labor economics passes away, Slack in acquisition talks with Salesforce, and Yellen’s plans for Treasury-Fed cooperation. The Palantir Bump: Politics or Product? Palantir, ... Read More
Elections

To ‘Steal’ an Election

Dan has a good article on the homepage, the main point of which is that the system worked, since Trump’s efforts to reverse the election failed. Certainly I agree with him about that. But he also finds charges that Trump tried to “steal” the election “overheated.” Since I made such a claim myself, I ... Read More
Elections

To ‘Steal’ an Election

Dan has a good article on the homepage, the main point of which is that the system worked, since Trump’s efforts to reverse the election failed. Certainly I agree with him about that. But he also finds charges that Trump tried to “steal” the election “overheated.” Since I made such a claim myself, I ... Read More
Books

Jordan Peterson v. the Publishing Mob

Staff at Penguin Random House Canada have “confronted management” about the decision to publish Jordan Peterson’s book in an “emotional town hall,” Vice reports. Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life will be released in March 2021. Apparently, one “junior employee who is a member of the ... Read More
Books

Jordan Peterson v. the Publishing Mob

Staff at Penguin Random House Canada have “confronted management” about the decision to publish Jordan Peterson’s book in an “emotional town hall,” Vice reports. Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life will be released in March 2021. Apparently, one “junior employee who is a member of the ... Read More
White House

Implications of the Flynn Pardon

President Trump granted a pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national-security adviser, today. Flynn had pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about conversations, during the 2016 transition, with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Flynn’s pardon should bring to an end one gross violation of the ... Read More
White House

Implications of the Flynn Pardon

President Trump granted a pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national-security adviser, today. Flynn had pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about conversations, during the 2016 transition, with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Flynn’s pardon should bring to an end one gross violation of the ... Read More
Elections

It’s Only ‘Free and Fair’ When We Win

Indeed, this is astonishing: https://twitter.com/felixsalmon/status/1331295033325219840 In 2018, after two years of media spinning tales about shady Russian infiltrators in our government, 67 percent of Democrats believed that Putin’s gremlins had bored into our voting machines and altered the outcome ... Read More
Elections

It’s Only ‘Free and Fair’ When We Win

Indeed, this is astonishing: https://twitter.com/felixsalmon/status/1331295033325219840 In 2018, after two years of media spinning tales about shady Russian infiltrators in our government, 67 percent of Democrats believed that Putin’s gremlins had bored into our voting machines and altered the outcome ... Read More