The Plank

Could Obama Tolerate The Taliban?

Afghanistan uber-expert Steve Coll of the New Yorker pushes back on a quietly emerging view that, if the alternative is another possible Iraq-like quagmire, maybe we don't need to crush the Taliban after all:

This line of thinking has obvious appeal after the Bush
Administration’s policies of operatic overreach, but it is erroneous
for two reasons. First, the Taliban are not indigenous to
Afghanistan—their history and their present strength cannot be assessed
in isolation from their relationship with the Pakistani state and other
radical elements inside Pakistan. They are partially an Afghan problem
and increasingly a Pakistani problem, too. Second, the Taliban are now
so large and diverse, and have been so much changed by the
international environment in which they fight today, that to generalize
about their strategic intentions is to, well, guess, as we did,
unsuccessfully, in the run up to September 11th. Are most Taliban local
in their orientation and grievances? Sure. Are some interested in
overthrowing the Pakistani state, which is endowed with nuclear
weapons? Apparently. Do a few of them, like Al Qaeda, consider the
United States as a legitimate Far Enemy, worthy of determined raid or
two? I should think so, given the number of Taliban we have locked up
at Guant

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