by Alex Lantier
29 October 2008
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported on US plans to open direct negotiations with Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. The fact that the Journal, a conservative financial paper, broke the story shows that it was not a journalistic exposé, but a deliberate public declaration of a shift in state policy.
According to the Journal, “The US is actively considering talks with elements of the Taliban, the armed Islamist group that once ruled Afghanistan and sheltered al-Qaeda, in a major policy shift that would have been unthinkable a few months ago.” It reported that such talks were included in a “draft recommendation in a classified White House assessment of US strategy in Afghanistan.”
These plans seek to address a serious deterioration of the US position in Afghanistan. Violence has spread through the country and into neighboring tribal areas of Pakistan, whose US-backed government has been discredited by its acquiescence in US bombings and ground incursions into Pakistan against Taliban militants. The US war on the Taliban has also antagonized important US allies that helped the US organize the Taliban militias in the interests of US pipeline politics in the mid-1990s: the Saudi clerical establishment and Pakistan’s powerful military espionage agency, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).
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