Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Boston Globe's Invisible Ink: Karzai's Conference

Made the web version twice, but never made my printed paper out here.

Kind of sick of the games, Glob.

"Karzai to offer olive branch to Taliban leaders; US skeptical of plan to hold peace meeting" by Mark Landler and Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times | January 29, 2010

LONDON - Afghanistan’s president declared yesterday that reaching out to the Taliban’s leadership would be a centerpiece of his plan to end the eight-year-old war there, setting in motion a risky diplomatic gambit that could aggravate frictions with the United States.

A 65-nation conference in London intended to muster money and support for an Afghan war strategy instead exposed divisions between the Afghan government and its allies over the timetable for drawing down foreign forces and whether and how to reconcile with the leaders of the Taliban insurgency.

“We must reach out to all of our countrymen, especially our disenchanted brothers,’’ President Hamid Karzai said. In the coming weeks, he said, he would invite Taliban leaders to a traditional tribal assembly to try to persuade them to lay down their weapons and join the government.

Karzai’s proposal went much further than the strategy preferred by many American officials, who favor luring back low- and midlevel Taliban fighters.... US officials pointedly did not talk about “reconciliation’’ yesterday, and they were caught off guard by Karzai’s plans for a tribal peace conference. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton did not endorse Karzai’s strategy, though she voiced sympathy for his ultimate goal.



I think the WORLD KNOWS about "TERRORISTS," folks!


Dangling jobs and money before the Taliban could breed resentment among other poor Afghans who have little to show for their loyalty to the government. And it could deepen ethnic divisions with minorities like the Tajiks and Hazaras, who fought the Taliban for 15 years and who may view it as an unfair windfall for the Pashtuns, from which the Taliban draw most of their recruits.

Among former Taliban members who have taken part in previous government reconciliation programs, there is deep skepticism that a new program will be any better than earlier versions, which left them impoverished, jobless, and at risk of being attacked by their former comrades.

“Everyone understands that this reconciliation process is just a name because they leave us in the lurch,’’ said Mullah Abdul Majed, a former Taliban commander, who laid down his weapons in 2008 only to find himself abandoned by the government he had hoped to join....

The London conference was intended to help resolve some of those problems. It raised $140 million for a fund intended to ease the reintegration of low-level Taliban fighters. Some $500 million was pledged in all, but whether all that money will materialize was another matter. Clinton praised Japan for contributing $50 million to the fund, but she said the United States had no immediate plans to follow. The Treasury Department would have to approve such funding, because it classifies the Taliban as a terror organization....

For their part, the Taliban leadership has rejected talk of an olive branch, saying its fighters would not be influenced by financial inducements and will not join talks until foreign forces leave Afghanistan. American officials said that was evidence of the Taliban’s insecurity.

What, we in to name-calling now as we get our asses handed to us over there?