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What Happened to the Moderate Taliban?

John on April 22, 2009 at 10:36 pm

From today’s NY Times:

Taliban militants have established control in the strategically important area of Buner, only 70 miles from the capital, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The move is part of an unrelenting push by the Taliban toward the heart of Pakistan…

The expansion of the Taliban into Buner comes 10 days after the government of President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to the introduction of Sharia law in Swat, a move that the Obama administration has criticized as too much of a concession to the Taliban.

As usual, the Times puts the most favorable possible spin for Obama on the story. They fail to mention some relevant recent history:

  • Feb. 4 – Taliban seize a police station in a populated area of the Swat Valley
  • Feb. 17 – The Pakistani government declares a truce with the Taliban in the area. The Telegraph reports that the deal is “privately” supported by the US and represents the “smart power” thinking outlined by Sec. Hillary Clinton.
  • March 7 – In an interview with the NY Times, Obama says he would be willing to negotiate with the elements of the Taliban (note the NY Times used the word “moderate” to describe them but doesn’t quote Obama directly using the word)
  • March 10 – Joe Biden says only 5% of the Taliban are “incorrigible.” Video here.
  • Early April – Taliban authorities flog a 17-year-old girl named Chand Bibi for being seen with a man who was not her father or brother. Video here but be warned it is not easy viewing.
  • April 14 – Sharia law becomes binding in the Swat Valley. This NY Times article notes “”This agreement was reached not from a position of strength but from a position of weakness.”
  • April 22 (today) – Unnamed Pentagon sources say the Taliban have “a taste of victory” and will likely try to take over Peshawar.

In short, the Taliban have been advancing since before inauguration day and Obama and Biden have been dawdling, looking for a way to buy off “moderates” without making any real commitment or a show of force. Indeed, handing Swat Valley over to these militants was supported by our Sec. State, Hillary Clinton.

This plan was so transparently bad that even the Obama cheering squad at HuffPost has trashed it. Another analyst whose credentials include a book on the Taliban called Obama’s plan a “dream.”

The danger of course is that Pakistan is a nuclear nation. Should the Taliban achieve a coup, how sure are we that we can secure those weapons? No one is saying directly, but this article describes the mood in the pentagon as “panic.”

Remember, the Taliban have been living and working with al Qaeda in Waziristan. Should they get their hands on a bomb, the temptation to take it across the border and use it on the infidel crusaders (that’s us) might be very great indeed.

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Category: Foreign Affairs |

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