Taliban mock West for calling Afghanistan unwinnable


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Multimedia presentation of the senior Taliban commanders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Click to view.

The Taliban have seized on what US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described as "defeatist" comments made by Western officials on the ability to succeed in Afghanistan to score a propaganda victory.

In a press release issued on Oct. 10 at Voice of Jehad, the Taliban's official website, the group described the recent statements that that war in Afghanistan is unwinnable as "a hue and cry" and reiterated their terms of peace are complete and unconditional withdrawal.

"The Islamic Emirate wants to make it clear that the only solution and the most successful path for resolving the Afghanistan problem is for the foreign forces to leave Afghanistan unconditionally and to respect Afghanistan's national independence and Islamic faith," the statement, issued in English, read. "Surely it is only then that peace, stability and prosperity would return to Afghanistan, otherwise all hue and cry and slogans will be empty, fruitless and ineffective."

"If the Americans, British, and at their behest the United Nations wish to keep the invading forces of 38 countries in Afghanistan, and at the same time ensure peace and reconciliation to their liking, they are dreaming an immature and empty fantasy."

The Taliban said the al Qaeda-linked group is "on the verge of victory" while the West is engaged in "a series of artificial gestures and a hue and cry about talks."

The Taliban issued three prior statements on the reports of negotiations between the Taliban and Western and Afghan officials. The statements derided the negotiations and said the Taliban would only settle for a complete withdrawal of foreign forces. One of the statements was issued by Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The first statement, issued by the Taliban on Sept. 28, rejected any idea of a peace agreement. "The Shura Council of the Islamic Emriate of Afghanistan considers such baseless rumors as part of the failed efforts by our enemies to create distrust and doubts among Afghans, other nations, and the mujahideed," the statement read. "No official member of the Taliban--now or in the past--has ever negotiated with the US or the puppet Afghan government... A handful of former Taliban officials who are under house arrest or who have surrendered do not represent the Islamic Emirate."

The second statement, signed by Mullah Omar on Sept. 30, made it clear the Taliban believed it was close to victory. Omar offered the West harsh terms for peace. "If you demonstrate an intention of withdrawing your forces, we once again will demonstrate our principles by giving you the right of safe passage, in order to show that we never harm anyone maliciously," Omar said.

The third statement was made by Taliban military commander Mullah Baradar on Oct. 3. "We reject an offer for negotiation by the Afghan's puppet and slave President Hamid Karzai," Baradar said. "[Karzai] only says and does what he is told by America."

Over the last week, several senior Western officials have said the International Security Assistance Forces could not win the war militarily and that negotiations with the Taliban were necessary to secure the peace. Brigadier General Richard Blanchette, a Canadian officer who serves as the spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, said no military solution was possible in Afghanistan.

Kai Eide, the United Nation's Special Representative in Afghanistan, echoed Blanchette's statements. "I've always said to those that talk about the military surge ... what we need most of all is a political surge, more political energy," Eide said on Oct. 6. "We all know that we cannot win it militarily. It has to be won through political means. That means political engagement."

Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, the outgoing commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said winning the war was "neither feasible nor supportable" and the West should work to reduce the level of violence in the country.

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described these comments as "defeatist" during a recent interview with the press. "While we face significant challenges in Afghanistan, there certainly is no reason to be defeatist or to underestimate the opportunities to be successful in the long run," Gates said on Oct. 7.

Western officials, led by Britain, have pushed for negotiations with the Taliban in recent weeks after the violence in Afghanistan has reached a seven-year high. Some officials claim Mullah Omar and the Taliban have split from al Qaeda, but US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal they see no evidence of such a split.


Correction: Brigadier General Richard Blanchette is a Canadian officer, not a Briitsh officer, and has not advocated negotiations with the Taliban.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban mock West for calling Afghanistan unwinnable"

Posted by ST333 at October 14, 2008 5:27 PM ET:

Bill with all due respect to the NATO warriors on the ground, what do the defeatist EU/UK leaders think they are doing running their mouths in this manor? Is it possible we would be able to redeploy from the majority or European bases to make them stand up for themselves? I understand why we were there in the first place, but I don't see Russia as the threat it once was and I don't think it's helpful for us to continue to allow the EU to be on a permanent holiday because our presence guarantees their safety. I think it's time for NATO to dissolve. We need to be very careful about future engagements and who we can count on to be "in it to win it". I can't help but think Winston Churchill would be sick hearing this defeatist talk.

Posted by remoteman at October 14, 2008 7:26 PM ET:

Wht should we care what the Taliban/AlQ say? Of course they are going to exploit comments of weakness from commanders on our side. Those commanders should be taken to the woodshed, but other than talk, what have the Taliban really got for Afghanistan? Only misery. They were there once before and it was misery. As for NATO, yes, I agree, we should severely limit US participation in this organization. We should only keep Rhamstein and Landstuhl (hospital) and the missile base in Poland (if that comes off). Other than that, Europe needs to deal with its own security.

Posted by Abheek at October 14, 2008 11:46 PM ET:

Are these developments indicators of Eurabia ??

Posted by Noocyte at October 14, 2008 11:59 PM ET:

Great gods below.

It is comments like those of the Brigadier General which have no doubt prompted PM Malliki to very politely but firmly request that British forces remove themselves from Iraq...not due to any lack of valor by British troops, but by craven and duplicitous gamesmanship by the big hats.

As for the AQ/Taliban bluster, cf. barking dogs.

Posted by DJ Elliott at October 15, 2008 12:17 AM ET:

Before you slam the BG, you need to read his actual comments in entirety. Not just the headlines and out of context quotes.

He was right out of the COIN manual. Counter-insurgencies are not won by military force alone.
The press and the enemy are quoting out of context...

Posted by Noocyte at October 15, 2008 12:51 AM ET:

DJ Elliot: Your point is very well-taken. COIN is indeed a much more subtle bit of business than mere brute force, and does indeed comprise a very significant degree of schmoozing. I will cheerfully eat my words if this is indeed what the BG was saying. The gods know, it wouldn't be the first time that the complexity of COIN doctrine was misunderstood (and/or willfully misrepresented) by the media. The less said about the Taliban trash talk, the better.

Still, the statements to the effect that no military defeat of the Taliban is possible do invite mischaracterization, even if --in their full context, and given an understanding of COIN doctrine-- they are technically correct. They do not signal resolve and strength to those who we would call upon to risk all in support of a counterinsurgency strategy against the hard core Taliban and AQ who would raze their clans if they should so much as take tea with us.

At the very least, individuals in such influential positions should pick their words with far greater care.

Posted by David M at October 15, 2008 10:34 AM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 10/15/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by Carl at October 17, 2008 7:08 PM ET:

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains
And the women come out to cut up what remains
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier

I'm sure Alexander the Great was just as confident in his prowess. The Russians, too, never imagined losing to a collection of bandits and hill tribes. I can't help feeling we are displaying identical attitudes and risk identical results.

Posted by Albert at October 19, 2008 12:23 AM ET:

I respect the BG. His bravery is quite well-known. There is no need to take him to the woodshed. I am sure he is only stating the obvious.

Posted by What? at October 19, 2008 3:30 AM ET:

I bet Petreaus thinks we can win and any General that thinks differently should be relieved of command.