Is the Obama Administration courting the Taliban?
According to a New York Times article, Defense Secretary Robert gates said on Friday, January 22, that the Taliban “must be prepared to play a legitimate role” in Afghanistan. Gates went on to say that the Taliban must be prepared to participate in elections, not oppose education and not assassinate local officials.
United States strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan has included an effort to ply defectors from the opposition, but is Secretary Gates suggesting that the Taliban could be allowed to run Afghanistan if it just behaves itself?
It would seem this is exactly what he has in mind when he says,
“The question is whether the Taliban at some point in this process are ready to help build a 21st-century Afghanistan or whether they still just want to kill people”
It seems beyond belief that a puritanical caliphate like the Taliban could run Afghanistan without expressing their fundamentalist Sunni beliefs in a manner that would oppress the people of Afghanistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the Clinton Administration believed the Taliban could be manipulated, and used as a tool in the 1990s. The Taliban’s plans were slightly different. The result was the emergence of a brutal Taliban regime.
About.com’s History of the Taliban describes the way women were treated under Taliban rule,
“The Taliban’s long lists of edicts and decrees took an especially misogynistic view of women. Schools for girls were closed. Women were forbidden to work or leave their homes without verifiable permission. Wearing non-Islamic dress was forbidden. Wearing make-up, sporting western products like purses or shoes, was forbidden. Music, dancing, cinemas, any form of non-religious broadcasting and entertainment were banned. Lawbreakers were beaten, flogged, shot or beheaded.”
It would be nice to get some clarification from Secretary Gates or President Obama on exactly what they mean when Gates says that the Taliban should take a legitimate role in the governance of Afghanistan. Are they merely attempting to gain defectors or are they actually implying that the Taliban should be allowed to run Afghanistan?