U.S. says Taliban agrees to Afghanistan peace talks … Senior Obama administration officials said Tuesday that the Taliban has agreed to participate in peace talks based in Qatar, a key step forward in the effort to jump-start a political resolution of the war in Afghanistan ahead of U.S. plans to withdraw troops. Officials said direct talks between U.S. officials and Taliban representatives could begin this week in Doha and would be followed soon after by a meeting between the Taliban and the High Peace Council, which will represent the Afghan government in the talks. – LA Times
Dominant Social Theme: Finally, the breakthrough everyone has been waiting for! What a peacemaker this fellow Barack Obama is …
Free-Market Analysis: The final act of this phony war has commenced, and it is no more sincere than any other part of it. The Taliban "terrorists" have not been defeated and presumably there is no need for them to negotiate in good faith.
Taliban leaders – both Afghan and Pakistan – are contemptuous of Hamid Karzai as a corrupt Western puppet. The chances are that once NATO and the US pull out, Karzai is more likely to find a bullet in the head or a permanent exile in Switzerland with his embezzled billions than a continued position as the leader of the Afghan nation.
Meanwhile, US generals and politicians will make the best deal they can – knowing it won't last beyond the US pullout – announce victory and declare that Afghanistan, a ruined nation if there ever was one, is on the road to "recovery."
The opening of the Qatar office has long been a goal of U.S. officials seeking to move forward a diplomatic process ahead of the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces next year. Officials expressed cautious optimism about the prospects of the negotiations, and stressed that U.S. will act as a "facilitator" in the process.
"The core of the process is not going to be U.S.-Taliban talks," said one senior official, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter ahead of a formal announcement. "The core of it is going to be negotiation among Afghans and the level of trust on both sides is, as one would expect, extremely low."
U.S. officials have long pushed for the opening of the office in Qatar as part of the push toward a diplomatic resolution to the war. But even as they announced the news, a bombing targeting a prominent politician in Kabul demonstrated the challenges ahead.
In the 1800s, British troops fought to civilize Afghanistan. This was the heyday of empire, and if the British had been able to conquer the Afghan Pashtuns, they would have controlled the navel of the world. But it didn't happen. The British ended up controlling the northwest and the Pashtuns controlled the southeast and parts of Pakistan. That remains the situation today.
When the British and their US proxies leave Afghanistan (however much they choose to leave) the country will face the same kind of partition as previously. If there is any difference, it will be that NATO and the US have armed the Northern Afghan tribes with formidable weapons and created both an army and a civilian police force.
What the West has achieved, basically, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths and mutilations, is the removal of the Taliban from the seat of power and the reinforcement of the northern tribes that have traditionally been the Pashtun-Taliban foes.
In other words, nothing has changed.
It wasn't supposed to be this way, however. Ten years ago, the Anglo-American axis seized on the terrible events of 9/11 to attack Afghanistan even though the Taliban offered to turn Bin Laden over to the West if proof was forthcoming that Bin Laden was actually the author of 9/11. The promised US white paper was never offered, Bin Laden denied it and the great technology-heavy caves from which he supposedly engineered the attacks were never found but the invasion went on nonetheless.
From our point of view, what was going on was clear, and we've reported it ever since. The Pashtuns and the Punjabis are some of the oldest tribes in the world and have always stood in the way of any true Western-style globalization. This is the alliance that NATO and the West hoped to shatter over the painful course of the past decade.
But it hasn't worked any better than previously. The "peace talks" are likely going to be no more sincere or effective than the ones that took place in Vietnam. Once the US pulled out, North Vietnam simply stormed the South and took over.
It is not clear whether the Taliban will try to take over the whole of Afghanistan again, but what is clear is that there will be no peace for that wretched country even after the bulk of Western forces leave.