The latest news is that the Taliban have referred to as, "Lunatic" the latest overture to reconcile with "moderate" Taliban. Our old buddy Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman-ever-at-an-undisclosed-location released the latest critical evaluation of the plan to offer reconciliation to "moderate" Taliban.
What would you expect the "official" Taliban position on this to be? Would anyone expect them to hold referendums at their union meetings on who wanted to reconcile? More like the first one who brings it up will get a knife to the throat for his visit from the good idea fairy.
More after the jump...
Now, the reasonable question to ask is, "Just what the hell is a moderate Taliban?" Remember, not all insurgents are deeply committed Taliban. One thing we noted was that a lot of criminal elements with business interests to protect sided with the Taliban and used the brand name to strike terror and cloak themselves in religious legitimacy while still pursuing their criminal enterprises. Others are simply unemployed or underemployed men who hope to someday pay a dowry. In a society with not much dating action, coming up with a bride price weighs heavily on a young man's mind.
Also, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the Taliban are not going to feel any need to reconcile while they perceive themselves to be "winning." While they are "winning," those less than idealistically pure are not only "employed," they are also securing their future with the next regime. If, and only if, the Coalition and the Afghan Government start to make significant progress, then the veneer will begin to crack.
It is good counterinsurgent strategy to leave the door open to reconciliation. My M-9 pistol carried a 14-1 magazine. Fourteen rounds were for them and one was for me. Surrender was not an option. In the circumstances in which teams like mine operated, getting overwhelmed by a superior force was not hard to imagine. What if my Afghans broke and ran? What if I was wounded and overtaken? One round. As long as I had that one round, I would not be a propaganda tool, beheaded on video for the world to watch on the internet, for I knew that death was the only end result. My ANP may have fared better, but it was hard to tell. They weren't inclined to give up, either, but for them there was some hope of survival.
I discuss this only to demonstrate that the promise of decent treatment can be an inducement, to someone who is under terrifying pressure, to consider another way out of the pickle in which they find themselves.
If security begins to spread, some of the roughly 80 percent of the populace who don't want the Taliban in charge will start talking and Taliban and criminals will start to get arrested. That is when the continued calls for reconciliation will start to make some start to think.
Galula pointed out that offering a path to reconciliation is important. It only works when the insurgent is struggling, however. When the government is losing, it just looks desperate. This is the correct policy, but it's not going to have any effect until the government begins taking back some areas. Galula pointed out, also, that committed insurgents only only negotiate when it is their best interests, one of those times being when they feel they are on the verge of victory, only to lull and distract their enemies with a false sense of hope or to convince the government to fatally weaken itself. I think that this is what the Taliban were doing at the meetings last year, trying to get the Coalition to leave so that the government could be more easily overwhelmed.
But Zabiullah Mujahid is not going to change his song. Taliban "rejection" of reconciliation is not news. It's just exactly what you would expect them to do. If that song does change, we are most likely in trouble.
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