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Thread: President Obama: Taliban is not our enemy, can have a place in Afghanistan's future

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default President Obama: Taliban is not our enemy, can have a place in Afghanistan's future

    Barack Obama: Taleban can be involved in Afghanistan future

    President Obama is prepared to accept some Taleban involvement in Afghanistan’s political future and is unlikely to favour a large influx of new American troops being demanded by his ground commander, a senior official said last night.

    Mr Obama appears to have been swayed in recent days by arguments from some advisers, led by Vice-President Joe Biden, that the Taleban do not pose a direct threat to the US and that there should be greater focus on tackling al-Qaeda inside Pakistan.

    Mr Obama’s developing strategy on the Taleban will “not tolerate their return to power”, the senior official said. However, the US would only fight to keep the Taleban from retaking control of the central government — something the official said it is now far from capable of — and from giving renewed sanctuary to al-Qaeda.

    Bowing to the reality that the fundamentalist movement is too ingrained in national culture, the Administration is prepared, as it has been for some time, to accept some Taleban role in parts of Afghanistan, the official said.

    That could mean paving the way for insurgents willing to renounce violence to participate in a central government, and even ceding some regions of the country to the Taleban.

    Mr Obama, the official said, is now inclined to send only as many more troops to Afghanistan as are needed to keep al-Qaeda at bay. Downing Street said that the US President had discussed Afghanistan with Gordon Brown yesterday during a 40-minute video conference call.

    Sending far fewer troops than the 40,000 being demanded by General Stanley McChrystal would mean that Mr Obama is willing to ignore the wishes of his ground commander.

    General McChrystal, along with the US military’s other top officials, insist that only a classic, well-resourced counter-insurgency strategy has a chance of staving off defeat in Afghanistan. Losing the war, they further argue, would provide al-Qaeda with new safe havens from which to mount attacks on the US and elsewhere.

    After two days of meetings in the White House Situation Room with his war Cabinet, Mr Obama, according to the official, kept returning to one central question: who is our adversary?

    The answer was, repeatedly, al-Qaeda, with advisers arguing that the terror network was distinct from the Taleban and that the US military was fighting the Taleban even though it posed no direct threat to America.

    In a sign of how politically astute the insurgents have become in deciphering the debate raging inside the White House, the Taleban issued a statement on their website yesterday declaring that they had “no agenda to harm other countries”.

    Mr Obama appears to be thinking that the primary aim of US forces in Afghanistan is to deny al-Qaeda any ability to regroup there — as it did before the 9/11 attacks. Such a mission would require only a small increase in the forces deployed in Afghanistan and a bigger focus on killing al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan. Such an approach will be resisted fiercely by General McChrystal and most Republicans.

    Two other factors have played a significant role in the debate. Mr Obama is concerned that the discredited Government of President Karzai could doom a counter-insurgency strategy to failure. The second is how encouraged the Administration has become over the Pakistani Government’s willingness to take the battle to extremists inside its own borders.

    Barack Obama: Taleban can be involved in Afghanistan future - Times Online



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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Afghan War Debate Now Leans to Focus on Al Qaeda

    WASHINGTON — President Obama’s national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

    As Mr. Obama met with advisers for three hours to discuss Pakistan, the White House said he had not decided whether to approve a proposed troop buildup in Afghanistan. But the shift in thinking, outlined by senior administration officials on Wednesday, suggests that the president has been presented with an approach that would not require all of the additional troops that his commanding general in the region has requested.

    It remains unclear whether everyone in Mr. Obama’s war cabinet fully accepts this view. While Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has argued for months against increasing troops in Afghanistan because Pakistan was the greater priority, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have both warned that the Taliban remain linked to Al Qaeda and would give their fighters havens again if the Taliban regained control of all or large parts of Afghanistan, making it a mistake to think of them as separate problems.

    Moreover, Mr. Obama’s commander there, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, has argued that success demands a substantial expansion of the American presence, up to 40,000 more troops. Any decision that provides less will expose the president to criticism, especially from Republicans, that his policy is a prescription for failure.

    The White House appears to be trying to prepare the ground to counter that by focusing attention on recent successes against Qaeda cells in Pakistan. The approach described by administration officials on Wednesday amounted to an alternative to the analysis presented by General McChrystal. If, as the White House has asserted in recent weeks, it has improved the ability of the United States to reduce the threat from Al Qaeda, then the war in Afghanistan is less central to American security.

    In reviewing General McChrystal’s request, the White House is rethinking what was, just six months ago, a strategy that viewed Pakistan and Afghanistan as a single integrated problem. Now the discussions in the White House Situation Room, according to several administration officials and outsiders who have spoken with them, are focusing on related but separate strategies for fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

    “Clearly, Al Qaeda is a threat not only to the U.S. homeland and American interests abroad, but it has a murderous agenda,” one senior administration official said in an interview initiated by the White House on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the strategy review has not been finished. “We want to destroy its leadership, its infrastructure and its capability.”

    The official contrasted that with the Afghan Taliban, which the administration has begun to define as an indigenous group that aspires to reclaim territory and rule the country but does not express ambitions of attacking the United States. “When the two are aligned, it’s mainly on the tactical front,” the official said, noting that Al Qaeda has fewer than 100 fighters in Afghanistan.

    Another official, who also was authorized to speak but not to be identified, said the different views of Al Qaeda and the Taliban were driving the president’s review. “To the extent that Al Qaeda has been degraded, and it has, and to the extent you believe you need to focus on destroying it going forward, what is required going forward?” the official asked. “And to prevent it from having a safe haven?”

    The officials argued that while Al Qaeda was a foreign body, the Taliban could not be wholly removed from Afghanistan because they were too ingrained in the country. Moreover, the forces often described as Taliban are actually an amalgamation of militants that includes local warlords like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Haqqani network or others driven by local grievances rather than jihadist ideology.

    Mr. Obama has defined his mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan as trying “to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda and other extremist networks around the world.” But he made it clear during a visit to the National Counterterrorism Center on Tuesday that the larger goal behind the mission was to protect the United States. “That’s the principal threat to the American people,” he said.

    Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said Wednesday that Mr. Obama’s “primary focus is on groups and their allies that can strike our homeland, strike our allies, or groups who would provide safe haven for those that wish to do that.”

    The discussion about whether the Taliban pose a threat to the United States has been at the heart of the administration’s debate about what to do in Afghanistan. Some in the Biden camp say that the Taliban can be contained with current troop levels and eventually by Afghan forces trained by the United States.

    Moreover, they suggest that the Taliban have no interest in letting Al Qaeda back into Afghanistan because that was what cost them power when they were toppled by American-backed Afghan rebels in 2001.

    “The policy people and the intelligence people inside are having a big argument over this,” said Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations who has advised Mr. Biden. “Is the Taliban a loose collection of people we can split up? Can we split the Taliban from Al Qaeda? If the Taliban comes back to power in parts of Afghanistan, are they going to bring Al Qaeda back with them?”

    Some analysts say that the Taliban and Al Qaeda have actually grown closer since the first American bombs fell on the Shomali Plain north of Kabul eight years ago Tuesday.

    “The kind of separation that existed between the Taliban and Al Qaeda in 2001 really doesn’t exist anymore,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has advised General McChrystal. “You have much more ideological elements in the Taliban. In the east, they’re really mixed in with Al Qaeda.”

    Frances Fragos Townsend, who was President George W. Bush’s homeland security adviser, said the two groups remained linked.

    It’s a dangerous argument to assume that the Taliban won’t revert to where they were pre-9/11 and provide Al Qaeda sanctuary,” she said. Referring to General McChrystal, she added, “If you don’t give him the troops he asked for and continue with the Predator strikes, you can kill them one at a time, but you’re not going to drain the swamp.”

    Officials said Wednesday that General McChrystal’s official request for additional forces was forwarded to Mr. Obama last week. Mr. Gates’s spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said Mr. Gates had given Mr. Obama “an informal copy” at the president’s request.

    The meeting on Wednesday was Mr. Obama’s third with his full national security team. Another is scheduled for Friday to talk about Afghanistan and then a fifth is planned, possibly for next week. Mr. Gibbs said the president was still several weeks away from a decision.






    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/wo...y.html?_r=1&hp



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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Mr Obama appears to have been swayed in recent days by arguments from some advisers, led by Vice-President Joe Biden, that the Taleban do not pose a direct threat to the US and that there should be greater focus on tackling al-Qaeda inside Pakistan.
    Agreed.

    I could care less about the Taliban being a part of Afghanistan's present or future. Nothing the U.S. does is going to rid that country of the Taliban.

    The bigger objective is making sure that neither they, or Al-Qaeda, get anywhere near Pakistan's nukes.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    I think this is a lot more complex than that. After all, it was the Taliban that allowed Al-Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base of operations. So, who's to say they wouldn't again?

    And it's also the Taliban that are launching attacks inside Pakistan with the intent of overthrowing the Pakistani government. They killed 49 people in Kabul today. It was the Taliban, not Al-Qaeda that made the fight in the Swat Valley this year. I think if they regain control over Afghanistan, there's a strong chance they could overrun Pakistan.



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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    I'm torn. After all, it was the Taliban that allowed Al-Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base of operations. So, who's to say they wouldn't again?

    I think this is a lot more complex, and I agree that over time the two groups have become more and more entwined.
    I'm no fan of the Taliban, but I seem to remember Mullah Omar inviting bin Laden and Al Qaeda into Afghanistan under the protests of other Taliban leaders.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    True, the Taliban allowed Al-Queda to use Afghanistan to plot 9/11, and the two groups have probably joined forces against a common U.S. enemy. But we can't spend the endless time and resources worrying about 'what if' some country allows terrorists safe harbor to plot against us. If we focus on trying to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban then we end up trying to 'spread democracy,' and that's what got us in trouble in the first place.

    I'm more concerned about the Taliban/Al-Queda getting their hands on Pakistan's nukes. Because they can do far more damage with that than they did on 9/11.

    And we have enough domestic terrorists already living in America, Christian and Muslim, to worry about.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    ^ True on the democracy spreading. That's why I'm torn.

    I think the climate there between the two groups has changed due to the years- almost a decade- of war. I think there is plenty of reason to believe that while they have differences, they also have common ground, mainly both want an Islamic theocracy. The Taliban at one time was focused only inside Afghanistan, but for some time now they have been trying to overthrow the Pak gov. And if everyone is concerned about AQ getting nukes, that angle really needs to be looked at carefully.

    In the end, the US is going to pull out of Afghanistan, with nothing to show for it. But what is left behind is going to have serious long range repercussions, for Asia and for the US.

    ETA: The fact that we helped install a corrupt government in Afghanistan didn't help in this mess either.
    Last edited by witchcurlgirl; October 9th, 2009 at 03:57 PM.



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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    I was thinking about this story, and it's not that surprising to me now. Because Bill Maher had a British journalist on his show a couple of months ago who said that the U.S. was negotiating with those factions of the Taliban who were tired of this war. So what we're seeing is probably a result of that.

    Dubya had the Taliban on the run, and then focused on Iraq and the Taliban regained strength. So, if the U.S. simply focuses on pushing the Taliban out, then we'll have to keep our military there forever to make sure that they don't ever regain strength. Because the second we left, they'd move back in. But I think Afghanistan's recent election, steeped in corruption, has finally shown the U.S. that they can't count on the government to keep the Taliban at bay.

    And, ultimately, it's up to the people of Afghanistan to get rid of the Taliban. I mean, back when Russia was a superpower they had more troops in Afghanistan than we did and they left with nothing to show for it. But since we're building a massive embassy in Pakistan that will allow the U.S. to not only keep a close eye on Afghanistan, but to watch the situation between India and Pakistan.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, aren't the Taleban the religious nutjobs keeping women in burkas and shooting any that try to learn?

    Yeah, lets involve THEM.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    If we're going to dismiss the Taliban, based on their treatment of women, then we have to do the same for every other Muslim country.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    uh, and that should happen too.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Yeah, that won't ever happen as long as the U.S., and every other Western nation, continues their addiction to oil from the Middle East. It's a little difficult to dismiss an entire region of the world when you're buying a massive amount of your fuel from them.

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    lol, as if anyone in this world really has a say in what the taliban can and can't do. Sorry president, but regardless of what anyone says, the only one that dictates what the taliban does is the taliban themselves. After 8 f**king years, the taliban is already taken back huge areas of the country. They can pretty much do whatever the f**k they want.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Cornel West was on 'Real Time' tonight, and his view was similar to mine. That at this point there is no untangling of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

    He went on to state that his opinion is there are about 100 Al-Qaeda members left in Afghanistan, and this talk is just the spin being put out before we start announcing we're going to leave.



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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    ^^Yeah, I saw that Real Time and I agreed with Cornel.

    But we've been in Afghanistan for almost 10 years and we still can't untangle the Taliban & Al-Queda. And with troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan doing 3, 4 & 5 tours of duty we can't justify having them do more tours for an unwinnable war with no end in sight.

    At this point, Afghanistan is a quagmire with no good solutions to resolving it. But we have to have 1) an exit strategy and 2) mechanisms in place to continue anti-terrorism operations.

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