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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hey, Mr. Taliban

After presiding for six years over a war in which over 1,600 Americans were killed fighting the Taliban, Obama did not mention the enemy during his West Point Commencement Address.

That wasn't unusual. Obama has a curious habit of avoiding the "T-word" in his official speeches.
Even when delivering his Rose Garden speech about Bergdahl's return, the Taliban were never mentioned.

Obama's mentions of the Taliban vary by context. When speaking to the military he will sometimes say that the United States is at war with the Taliban. In international diplomatic settings however there is a subtle shift in his language that emphasizes that the conflict is really a civil war between the Taliban and the Afghan government with the United States there to act as a stabilizing force.

When discussing the Qatar process, his language suggested that the United States was only there to facilitate an understanding between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The President of Afghanistan claimed that Obama had told him, "The Taliban are not our enemies and we don’t want to fight them."

Vice President Joe Biden had expressed similar thoughts, stating, "The Taliban per se is not our enemy. That's critical." White House spokesman Jay Carney awkwardly defended Biden by arguing that the United States was fighting the Taliban, but was there to defeat Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda in Afghanistan however had already been defeated by Bush.

During the campaign and once in office, Obama had proposed outreach to the "moderate" Taliban. Biden estimated that only 5% of the Taliban were incorrigible while 70% and then another 25% could be reasoned with.

According to Biden, these Taliban were expected to end all ties with Al Qaeda, accept the Afghan constitution and offer equal treatment to women. Obama issued the same demand last year. The Taliban who hold strict religious beliefs about the evils of democracy and the inferiority of women did not rush to take Obama and Biden up on their offer.

Obama's dual views of the Taliban made for an incompatible policy. When playing the role of commander, he delivers applause lines about "pushing the Taliban back" and large numbers of American soldiers were sent to Afghanistan. But the rest of the time he views the Taliban not as an enemy, but like Boko Haram or Hamas, as a group that is acting violently only because their legitimate political needs are not being met.

Some might say that it was as a commander that Obama sent Bowe Bergdahl to Afghanistan, but that it was as an appeaser that he brought him back. And yet both Obamas are the same man. Obama sent Bowe Bergdahl to Afghanistan for the same reason that he brought him back.

This is the discontinuity that bedevils modern liberal foreign policy which fights wars it does not believe in, rejecting war, while still attempting to use force as an instrument of diplomacy.

When Bush sent American soldiers off to war, it was because he believed that there was a real enemy to fight. Obama, as we have seen, never believed that the Taliban were our enemy and his own intelligence people had told him that Al Qaeda had a handful of fighters in Afghanistan.

If so, why did he send thousands of American soldiers to die or be maimed fighting the Taliban? He did it to reconcile with the Taliban.

The Afghan Surge had never been meant to defeat the Taliban. It was the 'stick' part of a 'carrot and stick' offer. Obama's new 'smart' approach to Islamic terrorism depended on isolating that proverbial tiny handful of extremists by empowering the moderate extremists. Drone strikes and outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood were both meant as precision tools for isolating disruptive terrorists.

Obama was aware that the difference between the moderates and extremists was not in beliefs, but in tactics. Like many on the left, he rejected the War on Terror as a war against a tactic, but he was willing to deal with it by isolating the Islamist tactic and rewarding the Islamist ideology. Americans still upset over September 11 would see terrorism decline while Islamic terrorists would be able to achieve their goals through political means. This was the balance that his foreign policy was built on.

He was trying to win the War on Terror, not by defeating the terrorists, but by helping them win, isolating the terrorist tactic and rewarding the Islamist ideology

Drone strikes and the Arab Spring were not contradictions. They were part of the same policy.

The policy of fighting terrorism by empowering terrorists was not a new one. That same policy had led to the Peace Process in Israel. But it appealed to an administration that had very little real world experience, a great deal of contempt for its own country and a high opinion of its own cleverness.

Despite all the cleverness, dismantling the War on Terror by pairing strategic violence and appeasement never actually worked. Typical of such efforts was the pursuit of Bin Laden which Obama had meant to use to shut down Gitmo, but instead became an unintentional trophy. Violent means could be used to achieve violent ends, but not diplomatic ones. Diplomacy however only dragged the US deeper into more military involvements as the Arab Spring led to the Libyan War.

And the Syrian Civil War.

Obama cultivated the image of a peacemaker who ends wars, forever talking about his plans to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but his policies were creating new wars instead.

Obama had been dismissive of the Iraq Surge long after it was proven to have worked. Why then did he decide on an Afghan Surge? Obama misread the Iraq Surge as COIN and conflated it with the Sunni Awakening. The Afghan Surge implemented that disastrous misreading as a disastrous policy.

It wasn't entirely his fault. The perception that the United States had finally won hearts and minds in Iraq was a crucial political defense at home. But the United States had not won over the Sunnis who took part in the Awakening. Instead it provided them with leverage against the Shiites and Al Qaeda. It had worked so well not because for once their goals had become aligned with ours, not through empty talk or diplomatic manipulation, but because of the changing situation on the ground.

The United States had not defeated an insurgency. Instead it had found itself on the same side as it. 

COIN had not been the answer in Iraq. It would not be the answer in Afghanistan. Instead it turned the land into a graveyard for American soldiers.

Obama's talk of "pushing back the Taliban" was political theater. The American soldiers were there for political leverage while Hillary, Biden and Obama figured out how to seduce the Taliban into political participation while demonstrating to them that the United States was stronger and more popular than them.

The military would batter away at the incorrigible 5% of the Taliban while a deal would be cut with the other 95%. But the numbers didn't hold up.

Obama had claimed that withdrawing from Iraq would force the Iraqis to work out their differences. It didn't work in Iraq. By putting clear deadlines on the US presence in Afghanistan, he hoped to pressure the Afghan government into becoming desperate enough to cut a deal with the Taliban. Instead he only made the Taliban aware that they had no reason to cut a deal because they could wait him out.

Like so many peace initiatives with terrorists, the pressure used to convince another government to negotiate with the terrorists only succeeded in convincing the terrorists not to negotiate. Obama was recreating the Israeli-PLO Peace Process disaster, except that he was doing it using American, instead of Israeli, lives.

Obama and Hillary's talk of an Afghan-led approach to reconciling with the Taliban completed the breach between the Afghan government and the US. By trying to play the middle man in a deal that no one wanted, Obama alienated the rest of the country. The US no longer had allies in Afghanistan. It only had enemies. The Green-on-Blue attacks increased dramatically. Even the people we were fighting alongside now saw Americans as the enemy.

Not only had Obama failed to turn the Taliban into friends, but he had turned friends into enemies.

Despite all the carnage, Obama had not won over the Taliban. Nor could he have. Alliances in the region are always in flux. Momentary deals could be made with small groups, but anything bigger than that would have required significant and sustained pressure. COIN precluded any real pressure and the Taliban lacked an outside threat that would have given them a reason to ally with the US.

Despite all the setbacks, Obama's people continued to cling to the idea that trading Bowe Bergdahl for top Taliban commanders would open up the peace process. The idea was floated in 2011 and 2012 and set aside because of Republican opposition. Proponents of Taliban appeasement blamed the GOP for sabotaging the Qatar talks. They even suggested that Republicans wanted the war to drag on to damage Obama's popularity rating.

By 2014, Obama had firmly embraced a philosophy of unilateral governance at home. He was no longer accountable to anyone and this time the deal went through.

Obama is determined to shut down the War on Terror, close Gitmo and end the War in Afghanistan before his term in office ends. He can do two out of three of those, but terrorism is in the hands of the enemy. His policies have put the initiative more firmly in the hands of a rising network of Islamist groups, some openly associated with Al Qaeda, others more ambigiously aligned with its ideas.

Meanwhile the American people have been lied to about the war and the Bergdahl deal threatens to unravel some of those lies. Obama did not recommit to Afghanistan to defeat Al Qaeda, as he has claimed, but to engage the Taliban. The Bergdahl deal was a last ditch effort to revive a Taliban peace process that Obama believes will finally disprove the Bush approach to terrorism.

When Obama authorized the Bin Laden operation, he did so to arrest him and put him through a civilian trial in order to dismantle Gitmo. This perverse duality characterizes his entire approach to the War on Terror. A military tactic is joined to an anti-war aim. Force is used to prove that violence doesn't work nearly as well as diplomacy and appeasement.

This is the disastrous policy that led to everything from the Bergdahl deal to the collapse of the US effort in Afghanistan.

Obama has spent far more time thinking how to win over the Taliban than how to beat them. It's no wonder that the Taliban have beaten him instead.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Daniel, thank you for your writing. You tell the truth like no one else does.

This time however I have to disagree somewhat. Thomas Sowell wrote in a recent column (I paraphrase) that one of the problems of decent people is the difficulty of acknowledging the motives of people who are fundamentally immoral. It is indeed hard for a good person to realize that some people might be simply evil.

When it comes to leftists, there are only two possible explanations for their behavior: either they're stupid, or they're evil. No one can do what they have been doing for so long, without being either of these two (or amazingly, both) -- because any other person would have simply concluded that "the Way" doesn't work and abandoned it completely.

In your writing you usually portray the left as more or less evil, yet when it comes to what you so aptly call "Obama Inc.", or the current US administration, you seem to ascribe the disasters they have been inflicting on the world to stupidity and ineptitude, or at most, to the juvenile vanity of people who refuse to take a hard look at reality and at their own reflection in the mirror.

Since declaring a leftist an idiot essentially means giving credit to his moral character (i.e., he wants to do good things but fails due to his insufficient abilities), this line of thought implies that Obama has the best interests of America in mind, but somehow lets his idealism blind and trip him as well as the country at every turn.

I think by now this has been thoroughly refuted, because no one can possibly do by mistake all the things that Obama has done. It's like saying that an ace hunter who hits a bird with every shot, is actually an amateur environmentalist who only intends to fire warning shots to scare the birds off and save them from the real hunters - yet "misses" and hits the birds themselves. Every single time.

I realize that you don't ascribe any noble causes to Obama, but when you so thoroughly analyze the seeming failure of his policies, the implication is that they actually failed. However, they are probably succeeding beyond anyone's wildest imagination - it's simply that the objectives are not those that good people can easily acknowledge.

The present article tells the story of a failed leader. But it's actually the pictures which you chose to include in the article that accurately show the horrible reality, which is far worse than a mere failure. I'm afraid there is no idiocy and no incompetence here. The refusal to fight the Taliban or other terrorist groups isn't because of some clever policy of engaging those whom kind-hearted useful idiots call "moderates". It is simply because brothers in arms don't fight each other - they fight together.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Evil means evil, but it doesn't mean mustache twirling "I will blow up stuff because I am evil".

Evil people don't think they're evil. As I've written before. They think they're good. They think they're reasonable well meaning people trying to make the world a better place.

They don't ascribe the failure of their policies to the evil roots of those policies.

The Communists weren't thinking that the food shortages were because of all the peasants they killed and enslaved. They were puzzled as to why their economic programs weren't working, when science proved it should.

This is how the left functions.

Obama is trying to destroy America, but he does believe at the same time that he's making it into something better, even if that thing is a destroyed America.

There is spite and malice in some doses, but that's true of most revolutions.

Evil however dismisses its own malice and spite as aberrations brought on by the conduct of its enemies. You will note this pattern recurs in Obama's speeches.

but pygmies said...

"When it comes to leftists, there are only two possible explanations for their behavior: either they're stupid, or they're evil." -- Dear Anonymous -- I suggest a third possible explanation for the willful blindness... the need to be right trumps everything, including, or in particular, looking reality in the eye. The feeling of being can gives rise to the emotion of righteous indignation which oozes from Pelosi, Reid, Obama's pores whenever they speak. Righteous indignation is valuable because, besides feeling good (especially in the absence of the capacity to give of oneself, or to love deeply), it allows the person to feel and express rage and hostility in a societally sanctioned manner -- i.e., you are not evil if the rage is thought to be justified. Therefore, a person with such a mental disorder (which Reich named "psychopathy," by the way) constructs a world view that always supports his argument -- because if I'm right, then you're wrong.

Anonymous said...

Dear Daniel and but pygmies, thank you for your replies.

I agree that few evil people actually intend to be evil. That's precisely what makes evil so insidious. Seen from that perspective, it does make more sense to discuss policy failures than I had realized before.

However, some forms of evil are so extreme that for all practical purposes, we could simply say that their perpetrators do intend to be evil. In my view, the jihadists beheading children aren't motivated by "good" idealism, but by an ideology of sadism, of pure delight in other humans' suffering. I don't think they really expect the world to become their idea of a good place; they're more interested in making it hell for anyone who doesn't follow their religion. The utopia is the dystopia, and they know it. It's not a case of taking upon oneself the dirty job of killing people so that the world will become ideal; they simply enjoy that dirty job, and doing it is their ideal.

Of course, politicians are far less directly involved in inflicting suffering, so it's probably more effective to have a calm, factual discussion of what they do wrong (even when they do wrong on purpose.)

My only concern is that ascribing basic decency to deeply immoral people - merely by discussing them as if the consequence of their actions are largely unintentional - might blur the root cause of the problem and make it more difficult to handle. To use another metaphor, it's like a soccer match where one team plays soccer by the rules, while the other uses guns, tanks and air strikes to obliterate the opposition. Calling this "soccer" runs the risk of legitimizing a team that obviously isn't playing that game at all. And it can also paralyze the real team, because the players will keep feeling bound to the rules that only they are following.

I can certainly see the point of discussing these issues like you've been doing. This is just my angle on this very difficult problem we're in.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

But that's indeed the point.

The Jihadists want a better world, but their own evil destroys any possibility of making it happen. They destroy whatever they touch.

Ditto for Obama or the Nazis or the Communists, etc...

They assume that the fault is in their enemies, when the fault is in themselves. So they go on destroying everything to make the world better, but like paranoid schizophrenics, their idea of making the world better is making it like them.

Which is to destroy it.

The good they want to do is really evil. That is why their policies fail.

Anonymous said...

That pretty much sums it up.

I guess the best way to define evil is "industrious insanity". And when that converges with good PR, we get what we have today.

Too bad their policies only fail after succeeding first. An airplane that can't take off is much better for the passengers than an airplane that can't land.

Anonymous said...

Even evildoers need enablers, aside from the immediate need for cash and what it can buy, elitist moral narcissism must come into play.
I.e.," we have Ivy League diplomas and everyone else is a moron". We know what's best, and what's best is to view the enemies of decency and even common sense, as poor, misguided, victims, who really, really mean well.
They remind me of myself in second grade when a bully boy made the walk home from school a daily nightmare. He finally stopped when I gave him a brand new red pencil..After that he thought he was my 'friend'.. Even I knew better at age 8, than to fall for that, and found a nice third grade boy to walk me home. I just wish I'd found that nice boy before I gave away my favorite pencil.
Not much has changed since second grade.
sophie

RAM said...

Is there evidence that Obama is on our side in any way? Viewed from the anti-American Davis-Ayers-Dohrn-Wright perspective, Obama is an absolute success.

Kol Bo Gary said...

Thanks as always, Daniel. But one thing I don't understand. You wrote...

But the United States had not won over the Sunnis who took part in the Awakening. Instead it provided them with leverage against the Shiites and Al Qaeda.

Aren't Sunni/Al Qaeda synonomous regarding Iraq? Isn't the current situation there Al Qaeda-Sunni vs. Maliki-Iran?

Anonymous said...

I agree with this analysis and want to take it a step further:

Obama et al switched sides in Benghazi - and everything he is doing or has done demonstrates that.
Who can forget when he was asked during the 2008 election - he clearly stated that he is uncomfortable and does not like the word 'victory'. Based on these premises - he acted upon his belief that our armed forces should not expect victory in Iraq or Afghanistan.
We won the war in Iraq and Obama lost the peace as he walked away without so much of making an effort to complete the set of an agreement prepared by the Bush administration.
Take a good look at Iraq and what is going on there - now he wants to be worried and help.
The same fate awaits Afghanistan - he labeled it 'the good war' announced a surge associated with a total withdrawal date. His ROE's became so restrictive that it caused many service members lives and lifelong maiming injuries.

He is aware of his double dealing - those who could expose his criminal activities - which they are - are forced to sign 'nondisclosure agreements' ala Benghazi and Bergdahl's company service members. This was never done before.

His dealings of support for the muslim brotherhood is obvious ala Egypt, Libya, Syria and now Afghanistan (Qatar).

His Fast and Furious international is also well known which began in Benghazi with the full knowledge of Amb Stevens, Hillary, Petreaus, Brennan etc.. - he weaponized AQ, Al Nusra, Answar al Sharia and most of all the muslim brotherhood among other jihadist groups.
That the Taliban recently used 'Stinger Missiles' should surprise nobody - sadly the msm will continue to protect their idol.
To keep the Afghan Commander in the dark about the dubious release of the dream team 5 using Bergdahl as a tool is beyond questionable; to release the name of the highest ranking CIA station chief in Kabul because the intelligence community did not agree with the release of the Taliban 5 upon departure to Afghanistan to seal the deal by Obama was also no accident.

To ignore the military command in their request not to release these Taliban 5 is also no accident.

One can only conclude that taken all his actions since in office are not in the interest on the country which elected him to govern based upon the oath he swore to faithfully observe and govern according to the laws in the constitution.

He has caused many lives of service members as well as livelong injuries sustained due to his questionable actions and policies, laws he choose to follow and ignore those not fitting into his agenda.
His agenda from the beginning was not only questionable but his executions of duty is that of someone with loyalty not ankered in the United States of America.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Yes and no. Al Qaeda draws on Sunni support, but a lot of them are foreigners. There's a complex interplay of clan loyalties.Quite a few, probably the majority, don't remotely want to live under Al Qaeda rule, since Al Qaeda in Iraq's original base was from the criminal classes.

But they may be willing to temporarily aid or ally with Al Qaeda to hurt the Sunnis. It's also possible that Maliki for his own reasons has empowered Al Qaeda, possibly to take down the Sunnis or make them dependent on him.

This kind of political mess of backstabbery is common in the region.

Anonymous said...

Spengler at PJ Media has an interesting column about the Iraq surge and Anbar Awakening leading to and worsening the coming civil war in Iraq. His point is that those events led to the dissolution of minority rule and left the tribal factions evenly armed, and there will be hell to pay as a result of that plus the US withdrawal.

I never would have looked at it that way.

The Ray Esquivel said...

Daniel, a couple of articles back I said that I thought you did not adequately define "evil." And now you say "The Jihadists want a better world, but their own evil destroys any possibility of making it happen. They destroy whatever they touch."

I agree with you about their evil and the destruction their energies result in, however, the first part about them wanting "a better world" is really off the mark.

Whether Jihadists, or the Left, they don't want a better world. They want control. They view themselves as the betters of all of us. They want to be the boss of all of us.

So many, after all this time, still shake their heads about Barry wondering why he is failing so badly. If you judge him by traditional American values, yes he is failing. But he is something else entirely, a fact that many still do not understand. His failures are part of the payback for the Dreams of My Father and his Socialist goals. They are the Cloward-Piven strategy on steroids. As someone else said, according to his mentors, I am sure he is being given high scores for what he is accomplishing for his "constituents." And those people are not the American public.

Hence, we have not only the run on the welfare state, but the collapse of the legal/judicial system as it is infected with liberal thought and the constitution has no role. We have no borders and yet American citizens are subjected to the daily demands of the DHS and the TSA and NSA spying. Why is this the case when our enemies can get legal permissions to come and go as they please, our enemies are released back into the wild by presidential decree, and borders are open wide to whomever is bold enough to venture across them. But, not all blame falls on Barry as a lot of the tools he is using were put into place by "W." And he insults and makes enemies of those who used to be our best friends. Returning the bust of Churchill ... as if it was his to return! That belongs to the American people, not him personally.

Add the Obamacare mess, the economic "recovery" ha ha, the attack on the middle class, the weakening of the military, a foreign policy that aids our former enemies, and the continued increasing federal debt, and more and you get Cloward-Piven on steroids supported by the lame stream media and politicians using Rules for Radicals to evade any hint of malevolence or malfeasance.

So, no these people, no matter what persuasion, do not want a better world, they want control. And part of control is destruction of what was great. Sort of reminds me of the Vietnam saying "We have to destroy the village in order to save it." But they want to save it for themselves and assume that they will have their worker bees to provide the "production of goods" that they have become accustomed to. What they will get is 'soviet" style production and quality.

Let's be honest. There are some brilliant evil people. But that does not mean they can't do stupid things. And they always seem to over reach.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

It's not actually a better world, but what they see as a better world. And since they define it that way, that better world can only be achieved through their total control.

Narcissists can only view a better world in terms of themselves.

" Let's be honest. There are some brilliant evil people. But that does not mean they can't do stupid things. And they always seem to over reach."

Evil always destroys itself and brilliance is overrated. The 'smart people' are also often too smart to see their own mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Re: "the smart people" who don't see their own mistakes, I would add that even if they do, their hubris over being 'smart' will never let them admit error.
One can be very amused by the loyal media's assertion that O 'plays a long game' or multi dimensional chess, or whatever is the most recent excuse.
Where is the little boy who will call out that the emperor simply doesn't give a damn?
Since it was obvious that his only goal was to get elected, and become wealthy, and his handler's only goal was to find a Black man who was culturally White, mission accomplished. The puppeteers know he will follow orders, if only because he doesn't know what else to do, their power is well established.
Isn't it obvious what is afoot ? The fact that the only good news these days comes from Wall St., is no accident.

sophie

Anonymous said...

Brilliance and evil are far too often partners as history attests.

lemon lime moon said...

The taliban are his friends :D

Now I have that dang song in my head.. Hey Mr. Taliban tally me bananas....

Anonymous said...

Daniel, I just subscribed to your website today. Your ability to synthesize information and concisely summarize a profound, and often complicated, view is amazing.

I am also intrigued with the comments above; those discussing the "stupid vs. evil" paradigm. I will not jump into the fray, but I will say this: Notice all of our leaders "mistakes"--Benghazi, the IRS scandal, Solyndra, the Bergdahl swap, his stance on illegal immigration, even his statements regarding Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman all point in the same direction; that is, dismantling our country. He aways seems to root for the bad guy, he always seems to find ways to divide us Americans, he always seems to take money from the hated middle-class, etc. It reminds me of the mantra of the Left in the 1960's: "Bring it all down, man" or like the Rage Against the Machine line: "Destroy all nations. destroy all nations."

As our first African-American president, there is absolutely no way he will ever be impeached. His has total immunity and can act with total impunity. If any Republican went after him, they would be labelled a racist and that would be sure political death.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

thanks you,

The left seeks to destroy any existing order in order to be able to impost its own authority

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