The words we use are important, and each has its own specific meaning. So when the Obama Administration said that it was open to dealing with "moderate Taliban," people should ask what in the world it means. The Taliban is by definition a radical organization that is not about to give on its maximalist demand of imposing Sharia law wherever it attains power. It is in its very essence contrary to everything we believe in as Americans. When the US President, who considers himself a master of words, speaks about moderate radicals, he needs to be asked, "Are you crazy?"
President Obama is copying the policy of the Pakistani government whereby it has identified elements of the Taliban that it believes are moderate; that is, amenable to negotiation. This, of course, is criminally naïve. Our history with Islamist radicals is that the only time they negotiate is when they believe themselves too weak for a military win and consider themselves bound to any "negotiated peace" only until they are strong enough for total victory.
Last month, Pakistan's government concluded an agreement with those moderate radicals whereby it allowed Sharia law to replace the law of the land in the Swat Valley and Taliban control to replace its own. In exchange, the Taliban agreed to a "permanent peace." Does anyone want to guess how permanent that will be? The Swat Valley, moreover, is located less than 100 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. It is home to over 1.2 million people who now have been consigned to live under the same tyrannical rule that pertained in Afghanistan before the Taliban was defeated there. There is also a giant stone statue of Buddha in the area, which likely will meet the fate of those that used to exist in Afghanistan.
As reported on Fox News at the time, NATO "blasted" the agreement and predicted that the Taliban would only use the ceasefire to become more powerful. Even Amnesty International objected, fearing it would legitimize the Taliban's human rights abuses. The new Obama administration was silent, perhaps mulling over the idea for itself.
Pakistan's government claims that the agreement was not "capitulation but the price of peace" in the region. Taliban leaders, however, say that capitulation is precisely what is it-and I cannot believe that there is something on which we agree. Capitulation was the price of peace. Taliban leaders claim that it was their unrelenting war in the valley and their policy of burning homes and other buildings indiscriminately that forced the government to surrender.
Now, Obama has decided that this is a pretty good idea and has let it be known that he is ready to negotiate with "moderate Taliban." Thus far, the Taliban response has been that they, too, are ready, so long as the United States will "stop your military action in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
This is about as wrong-headed a policy as one could imagine. Although people grow weary of comparisons with the Nazis, we might consider this one. In 1937, the British and French agreed to let Hitler have the part of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland as the price of "peace in our time," which was the British leader's famous quote after the concession. It was not long, however, before Hitler gobbled up the rest of that nation and soon embarked on his war for global domination that cost tens of millions of lives.
The Pakistanis ceded this one part of their country with same motives as their 1937 precursors. But less than one month later, Taliban forces already have taken over larger chunks of their country, and the civilian government is in shambles with politicians bickering while Pakistan burns. Most observers believe that only a military coup (which likely will occur as soon as March 16), will save nuclear Pakistan from becoming a Taliban state.
Mr. Obama better take note of the price of appeasement.