RSS
Talking to the Taliban
Will talks quell the violence in Afghanistan, or embolden the enemy?
W

hat happened
The U.S. might try to negotiate with some members of the Taliban—but not top leaders—to reduce violence in Afghanistan. (The Wall Street Journal)

What the commentators said
The idea of talking to the Taliban once seemed "preposterous," said USA Today in an editorial. But the fundamentalist Islamist extremists who once ran Afghanistan and sheltered 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden are now "splintered," and some elements might be willing to work with us, and against bin Laden. "Time to hold our noses and at least be open to the idea."

Holding meaningful talks won't be easy, said Laura King in the Los Angeles Times. "Each camp has staked out negotiating positions that are anathema to the other. Neither side professes the slightest trust in the other's word." But everybody would gain from giving a little instead of "pushing ahead with a grinding war of attrition."

Western policymakers aren't pondering "whether to negotiate with the Taliban but when," said David Ignatius in The Washington Post. U.S. military and civilian leaders agree that "it's too soon for serious talks" because the Taliban's recent resurgence would put us in a "position of weakness." But we reached an accord with former insurgents in Iraq, so Afghanistan might be next.

Big mistake, said William Martel in USA Today. Pushing for talks might just convince the Taliban that the U.S. and Afghanistan "have doubts about victory and want a way out of the war." That will only make matters worse and "strengthen the Taliban."

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week