Thursday, December 13, 2007
When Gordon Brown Talks, The Taliban Listens
To follow up on this post from yesterday, Gordon Brown's actual proposals for "talking" with the Taliban were couched in very diplomatic language:
"If they are prepared to renounce violence and abide by the Constitution and respect basic human rights, then there is a place for them in the legitimate society and economy of Afghanistan," he said.
Mr Brown, who held talks with Mr Karzai in Kabul this week, said that direct negotiations with the Taleban were not an option, but realism was needed when tackling the insurgency that has rumbled on for nearly six years. "Our objective is to root out those preaching and practising violence and murder, in support of men and women of peace," he said.
In other words, Brown is willing to talk with any Taliban members willing to accept what amounts to unconditional surrender. Which explains why they've managed to convince about 5,000 "tier-two and tier-three" Taliban to "talk", whereas the 70 Taliban "leaders" who listened to reason and laid down their weapons this year only did so once they'd been killed. Brown also committed to keeping almost 8,000 British troops in Afghanistan for the "longterm". Not a whole lot for Washington to throw a hissy fit about after all.
Update: According to The Independent, which cites the Taliban's former chief spokesman as a source, unlike Gordon Brown, Hamid Karzai doesn't mind talking with the Taliban and has been in direct negotiations with key lieutenants of Mullah Omar in an attempt to isolate the latter from his top-level leadership.