WASHINGTON -- President Obama is expressing guarded optimism about the Taliban's announcement Tuesday that it will sit down for direct peace talks with U.S. and Afghanistan officials.
In comments at the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland, Obama said the direct talks are an "important development."
"This is an important first step towards reconciliation, although it is a very early step," Obama told reporters. "We anticipate there will be lots of bumps in the road."
The Taliban will open an office in the Gulf nation of Qatar as early as Tuesday to facilitate direct peace talks with Afghanistan and the United States.
That last line is the most interesting, you see, because…
The Afghan president on Wednesday suspended talks with the United States on a new security deal to protest the way his government was being left out of initial peace negotiations with the Taliban meant to find a way to end the nearly 12-year war.
The move by Hamid Karzai raises tensions significantly and could derail the peace process even before it has begun.
In a terse statement from his office, Karzai said negotiations with the U.S. on what American and coalition security forces will remain in the country after 2014 have been put on hold. The deal was expected to define the future of American troops here and also pave way for billions in aid to the Afghan economy.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's president says he will not pursue peace talks with the Taliban unless the United States steps out of the negotiations and the militant group stops its violent attacks on the ground.
Hamid Karzai is upset over a U.S. and Taliban announcement the day before that they would begin preliminary peace talks in Qatar without the Afghan government.
According to a statement from Karzai's office, he says that his High Peace Council would "neither attend nor participate in the talks" until the process is "completely" in the hands of Afghans.
So basically, the talks will end up being three separate discussions of how to make peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban, while allowing the Unnited States a graceful exit.
And Henry Kissinger thought he had a challenge, appeasing the South Vietnamese while negotiating with the North. Eventually, he threw his hands up and we just pulled out. The North won. Game over.
If that’s the end game here, then what did we spend 12 years fighting for? OK, we got Osama bin Laden, but in Pakistan. We got rid of the mullahs who supported bin Laden, but not the fanatical hierarchy they created.
It’s possible we taught the Taliban a lesson, true. It’s possible that we’ve exhausted both their resources and their spirit.
It’s also possible we’ve created another Saddam Hussein, who licked his wounds for almost twenty years, and forced us to expend massive resources to keep him in check until we got tired of that too.
We are a war-mongering state. We don’t do peace, we do war (“Peace through strength” is about as Orwellian a saying as they get.) We don’t talk, we threaten.
I can understand Karzai’s anger.