If the Taliban are Not the Enemy, Who Killed All those NATO Soldiers?

NATO casualties during Operation Enduring Freedom have reached a total of 2,836 since 2001.  In 2001 the coalition lost 12 soldiers, while the high points was 711 in 2010.   This year 555 soldiers lost their life in Afghanistan, 411 of those were American.  Yet Vice President Joe Biden says the Taliban, per se, are not our enemy.   If this is the case, who killed all those soldiers?

“Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical,” US Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview to Newsweek magazine.

“There is not a single statement that the (US) President has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens US interests,” he said.

”If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us. So there’s a dual track here,” Biden added.

“One, continue to keep the pressure on Al Qaeda and continue to diminish them. Two, put the government in a position where they can be strong enough that they can negotiate with and not be overthrown by the Taliban,” he said.

“And at the same time try to get the Taliban to move in the direction to see to it that they, through reconciliation, commit not to be engaged with al Qaeda or any other organization that they would harbour to do damage to us and our allies,” Biden said.  NDTV

After ending the war in Iraq, which may yet prove to be a reckless decision without leaving a residual forces of 20,000 to 40,000 troops on the ground to provide stability, the Obama is now in the process of negotiating with the Taliban in order to achieve a quick exit from the ten year war.

By the end of next summer, 30,000 of the surge troops authorized by President Obama will have been withdrawn from Afghanistan and  NATO intends to complete the transition to Afghan Security Forces by 2014.  There is a major effort afoot to train as many Afghan soldiers and policemen as possible to support that transition.

Despite denying that official negotiations had taken place with the Taliban earlier this year, it is now apparent that negotiations have been ongoing and it was hoped that the Bonn, Germany Afghanistan Conference on December 5th could be used as a venue to announce a deal.  The deal would have included the release of five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.

Biden’s statement, which was irresponsible since NATO and US soldiers are engaged on a daily basis with the Taliban, was intended to hand an olive leaf to the Taliban.   A deal with the Taliban initially broke down mainly because the U.S. was reluctant to release Taliban fighters over details of the transfer.  Most were reluctant to release them to Afghan prisons.  Qatar offered, which had already agreed to host a Taliban office, offered to supervise them under house arrest.

The deal was scuttled when Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign the deal in the last minute.  Karzai, of course, has the most to lose in the brokering of a deal.  There is no guarantee that the Taliban would not take absolute power in Afghanistan once NATO Forces left.  In fact there is a real danger that the

country would return to pre-war conditions.

Hillary Clinton wrote and op ed on November 24th, in which she described the plight of Afghan women  under the Taliban.  Why in the world would you want to return the country to the Taliban by default?  

“Afghan women have lost lives, family members, basic human rights, human dignity and the right to be respected. Soon they might lose something that destroys humanity. They might lose hope.”

Those were the words of Belquis Ahmadi, a young lawyer from Afghanistan. I had invited her to a White House Human Rights Day celebration in 1999, and I am reminded what she said that day as I watch women in Afghanistan begin to emerge from the oppression of the Taliban. Some are choosing to remove the burkas they had been required to wear in public. Some are becoming journalists again, their voices heard on radio, their faces seen on television.

Thanks to the courage and bravery of America’s military and our allies, hope is being restored to many women and families in much of Afghanistan. As we continue the hard work of rooting out the vestiges of Taliban control and al-Qaeda terrorism, we must begin the hard work of nurturing that newfound hope and planting the seeds of a governing system that will respect human rights and allow all the people of that nation to dream of a better life for their children—girls and boys alike.  Time.com

Ten years in Afghanistan is a long time, but we should not forget why we went there in first place.  The trigger was 9/11 and the decision was made, supported by the global community to rout out the Taliban, who had provided a haven for Al Quaeda in Afghanistan.   Patience is sometimes a virtue.   Whenever you talk to soldiers that have served in Afghanistan, they will tell you that much progress has been made.  Infrastructure has been improved, schools have been build and girls are able to go to school.  Unfortunately too little is being reported by the media on all the good things being accomplished.  Blood and guts sells, good news doesn’t.
In a rush for the exit, all the blood spilled over the past ten years could have been for naught.  That mistake may have already been made in Iraq, where the jury is still out.  Let’s get it right in Afghanistan.  Ask any NATO soldier, the Taliban is their enemy.  If not, who is killing them?

About the Author

Karl Gotthardt - Politisite Managing Editor Maj. Gotthardt is a Retired Military Officer with 35 years service in the Canadian Armed Forces. He spent most of his time in the Military in Infantry Battalions. Karl took part in training for Afghanistan as an Operator Analyst with the Canadian Maneouvre Training Centre. Karl is a qualified military parachutist and military free fall parachutist. He earned his U.S. Master Jump Wings in Fort Benning, Georgia. Karl enjoys working with horses for the last 24 year. He owns six. He has experience in breeding, training and of course riding.Karl was born in Germany and is fluent in both English and German and he speaks enough French to "get in trouble". Karl has written or writes at NowPublic, All Voices, Tek Journalism and many others.

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