The U.S. Must Move Cautiously on Taliban Reconciliation
While President Obama is drawing down United States troops in Afghanistan, he is attempting to negotiate with the Taliban—despite the fact that the Taliban has renounced neither terrorism nor its support for al-Qaeda. If the Taliban is able to regain influence in Afghanistan without breaking ties with international terrorism, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups could re-establish safe haven there. A Taliban victory in Afghanistan would also strengthen Islamist extremist forces in Pakistan, undermining civilian democracy and emboldening hard-line elements within the Pakistani security establishment, which controls the country’s expanding nuclear weapons arsenal. Rather than long-shot talks with the Taliban leadership, Washington should focus on strengthening anti-Taliban elements that share the United States’ interest in preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a safe haven for international terrorists.