Leadership: Tantalizing the Taliban


October 1, 2007: The Afghan government is again negotiating piecemeal peace deals with the Taliban. This could do more damage to the Islamic radicals than all those smart bombs. The Taliban took a terrible beating during this years campaigning season (Spring and Summer). As the seasons change, the gunmen go look for a warm place to spend the Winter, while the tribal elders get together with government officials, to negotiate next years war.

The government has already turned some tribes away from the Taliban, and this has caused some friction between Taliban leaders. It's all carrot and stick, with the government providing carrots (bribes and reconstruction projects), and the Taliban provides the stick (terrorism against the government and tribes that won't support the Taliban). In the middle of all this are the drug lords. Some tribes have gone into the heroin business big time, and will make deals with government officials or the Taliban, in order to protect their business.

The government also has a stick in the form of foreign (NATO and U.S.) troops, who go after the Taliban, with great success. Tribal and Taliban efforts to use civilian casualties (real and imagined) to force the foreign troops to leave (because of political pressure back home) have not worked. This puts the tribal elders in a mood to make deals with the government. NATO air power and the damn smart bombs have changed everything. The UAVs and warplane targeting pods can see what is happening in the most remote parts of the country, day or night and in any weather. The Taliban often use civilians as human shields against the NATO fire power, but the foreign troops don't always cooperate.

The negotiations can go in many directions, and will. Some of the "peace" deals are not popular with the foreigners, as they involve leaving the drug gangs alone, and seeing more heroin heading for the West. But most Afghans are not happy with all that heroin and opium. Not all of it gets exported. What with all the guns and unemployed young men, adding drugs makes life even worse. Other deals involve bringing senior Taliban into the government. This aggravates foreigners, but there are already several Taliban like (Islamic conservative) men in the government. Afghans are used to this sort of thing, but it takes foreigners a while to get used to it.




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