Blog

The Taliban Might Negotiate, Even If They Think They're Winning

You can't follow U.S. print media coverage of the war in Afghanistan for any length of time without running into some variation of the following assertion:

 

"The Taliban Will Never Negotiate, As Long As They Think They're Winning."

No serious effort is usually made to substantiate this claim, which is asserted as if it were a self-evident truth. What you generally don't see, reading the newspapers, is a sentence that looks like this:

 

"The Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning, and the reason that we know this is...."

Yet, if you look back over the course of the last year, the assertion that "the Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning" is a very important claim. Why did the U.S. send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan last year? Because "the Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning." Why are we killing innocents today in Kandahar? "Because the Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning."

A claim that is a key buttress of life and death decisions about people we have never met and know little about and who have no say in our decisions, and yet which has never been substantiated, is a claim that deserves sustained scrutiny.

How could it be a self-evident truth that "the Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning?" Logically, two possibilities present themselves:

1) It is an immutable fact of human nature that no party engaged in a conflict ever negotiates as long as they think they're winning. The US never negotiates as long as it thinks it is winning; Britain never has; France never has; no guerilla army or insurgent movement ever has.

JFP 10/25: UN demands US investigate its role in Iraq torture

Just Foreign Policy News
October 25, 2010

Just Foreign Policy News on the Web:
[To receive just the Summary and a link to the web version, you can use this webform:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/switchdailynews]

Video: IDF soldiers visit the University of Michigan
Last Wednesday, the University of Michigan campus was visited by two IDF soldiers in an event sponsored by "Stand With Us." One of the soldiers served in the Givati infantry brigade, which bombed a house full of civilians during the Gaza war, killing 21 members of the same family [http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/what-led-to-idf-bombing-house-full-of-civilians-during-gaza-war-1.320816.] About fifty protesters attended the event and revealed shirts bearing the names of Gaza children killed during the Israeli invasion.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPDkq2JHfA0

Help Support Our Work
Your donation helps us educate Americans and create opportunities to advocate for a just foreign policy.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

Summary:
U.S./Top News

Tags:

JFP 10/22: Cholera Epidemic Feared in Haiti

Just Foreign Policy News
October 22, 2010

Restore Sanity? Jon Stewart Gave Senator Coburn a Bum Rap on Haiti Aid
Jon Stewart's campaign against the debasement of public discourse serves the public interest by making it more difficult to shut down needed policy changes, like negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan. Stewart should lead by example by acknowledging that when he accused Sen. Coburn of holding up $1.15 billion in Haiti reconstruction aid, the accusation was false.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/restore-sanity-jon-stewar_b_772476.html

Britain's Budget Cuts - Will the Bell Toll For Us?
Failure to cut military spending in Britain will mean draconian cuts in domestic spending, the New York Times reports. Their fate will likely be ours if we don't get serious about cutting the military budget. But we can't get serious about cutting the military budget until we end the war in Afghanistan. By dithering about peace talks - excluding Pakistan and key Taliban leaders - the Pentagon is threatening your Social Security check.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/britains-budget-cuts-wi_b_771570.html

Help Support Our Work
Your donation helps us educate Americans and create opportunities to advocate for a just foreign policy.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

Summary:
U.S./Top News

Tags:

Restore Sanity? Jon Stewart Gave Senator Coburn a Bum Rap on Haiti Aid

Like many Americans, I have a great deal of sympathy with the thrust of Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity on October 30. It's bad enough that the debasement of public discourse is unpleasant, and encourages some Americans to want to withdraw from politics completely; but the debasement of public discourse is also a major obstacle to enacting policies that America needs.

If you think, for example, that endless war in Afghanistan is not in America's interest, and that we would be better off seriously pursuing a negotiated political solution with leaders of the Afghan Taliban and with countries in the region including Pakistan and Iran, it's not in your interest to have a political environment where someone can essentially shut down your voice by accusing you of wanting to "cut and run," or of being "soft on terrorism," or of "not caring about Afghan women." Such a political environment is a mandate for endless war. The debasement of public discourse has been a major obstacle to ending the war in Afghanistan.

This week the New York Times reported that serious efforts towards "talks about talks" have begun between the Afghan government and leaders of the Afghan Taliban. This and similar reports have sparked significant debate: are these developments really significant, or are they being hyped? Are Taliban leaders of sufficient rank being included to make the talks meaningful? Is Mullah Omar, leader of the main branch of the Afghan Taliban, being excluded? Is Pakistan being excluded? If key players remain excluded, won't that be likely to sink the talks?

JFP 10/21: Sen. Coburn gets a bum rap on Haiti aid

Just Foreign Policy News
October 21, 2010

Britain's Budget Cuts - Will the Bell Toll For Us?
Failure to cut military spending in Britain will mean draconian cuts in domestic spending, the New York Times reports. Their fate will likely be ours if we don't get serious about cutting the military budget. But we can't get serious about cutting the military budget until we end the war in Afghanistan. By dithering about peace talks - excluding Pakistan and key Taliban leaders - the Pentagon is threatening your Social Security check.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/britains-budget-cuts--wi_b_771570.html

FCNL: Put the Pentagon Budget on the Table
Urge those who seek to represent you to support cuts to the military budget.
http://www.capwiz.com/fconl/issues/alert/?alertid=18902746

Nago Resolution demands retraction of Japan-U.S. agreement to relocate Futenma within Okinawa
On October 15, the city assembly of Nago, Okinawa, demanded the retraction of the agreement to relocate the US base within Okinawa, as demanded by public opinion in Okinawa. The resolution was addressed to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.
http://peacephilosophy.blogspot.com/2010/10/nago-citys-resolution.html

Beverly Bell: Surviving in Haiti

A survey of camp-dwelling families by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti found that in more than half of the families, the children went at least one entire day in the prior week without eating at all; 44% primarily drink untreated water; 78% live without enclosed shelter.

Tags:

Britain's Budget Cuts - Will the Bell Toll For Us?

This week, the British government announced plans to cut its military personnel by 10 percent, scrap 40 percent of the army's artillery and tanks, and withdraw all of its troops from Germany within 10 years, the New York Times reports. The plan will involve a cut of about 8 percent in real terms in Britain's annual defense budget, significantly less than the 10 to 20 percent cuts that were under discussion. The Times attributes the reduced military cuts, in part, to US government pressure.

The reduced cuts in military spending are expected to lead to increased cuts in domestic spending:

 

The more modest scale of the military cutbacks placed extra strain on the government's overall effort to save more than $130 billion through spending cutbacks by 2015, a commitment that will require other government departments to make cutbacks averaging 25 percent. [my emphasis]

This what we have to look forward to with a Republican Congress: demands for budget cuts from which military spending is largely spared and which therefore will fall on domestic spending, like Social Security.

JFP 10/20: US Blocks Salvadoran Activist from testifying at Human Rights Commission

Just Foreign Policy News
October 20, 2010

CISPES: U.S. Prevents Anti-Mining Activist from testifying before Inter-American Human Rights Commission
On October 18, the US Consulate in El Salvador refused to allow Hector Berríos to travel to Washington D.C. and appear before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) to give testimony on mining-related violence in El Salvador. He is the fourth anti-mining activist to be denied a travel visa to the United States this month. Requested action at link.
http://www.cispes.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=771&Itemid=1

30 Reps Urge Suspension of US Aid to Honduras
30 Members of Congress have written to Secretary of State Clinton, urging that US assistance to Honduras, particularly military and police aid, be suspended until the Lobo government adequately addresses human rights violations.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/734

Video: Mark Weisbrot Debates the IMF
As part of the IMF/WB Fall meetings, Just Foreign Policy President Mark Weisbrot debated Petya Koeva Brooks, chief of the World Economic Studies Division at the IMF: are IMF policies appropriate for the current global economic recovery? http://www.cepr.net/index.php/events/events/macroeconomic-policy-what-are-the-global-trends

A Robin Hood Tax to Pay for the Wars?

Tags:

US Reps Urge Suspension of US Aid to Honduras

30 Members of Congress have written to Secretary of State Clinton, urging that US assistance to Honduras, particularly military and police aid, be suspended until the Lobo government adequately addresses human rights violations. The letter is here.

Tags:

JFP 10/19: A Robin Hood Tax to Pay for the Wars?

Just Foreign Policy News
October 19, 2010

A Robin Hood Tax to Pay for the Wars
Instead of just saying that the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans should be allowed to expire, let's say that they should be allowed to expire and that the money saved shall be earmarked for the veterans' trust fund. That will give the super-rich a powerful incentive to push back against the permanent war.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/robin-hood-taxes-to-pay-f_b_768171.html

"Taking the Public Out of Public TV": FAIR Study Shows Pro-War Bias
On segments focusing on the Afghan War, though polls show consistent majorities of Americans have opposed the war for more than a year, not a single NewsHour guest represented an antiwar group or expressed antiwar views. Similarly, no representative of a human rights or humanitarian organization appeared on the NewsHour during the study period.
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4178

Pew: Cell Phones and Election Polls
Polling that doesn't include cell-phone only people may introduce bias.
http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1761/cell-phones-and-election-polls-2010-midterm-elections

Help Support Our Work
Your donation helps us educate Americans and create opportunities to advocate for a just foreign policy.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

Summary:
U.S./Top News

Tags:

A Robin Hood Tax to Pay for the Wars

Two weeks until Election Day, and no-one is talking about the wars, the New York Times reports. (Of course, that's not quite true: as the Washington Post reports, for example, this former Army Green Beret is running for Congress in Missouri on a platform of ending the war in Afghanistan.)

Unsurprisingly, the wars may have slipped down on many people's lists of top concerns in the face of 9.5% officially measured unemployment and the foreclosure crisis. But some people are talking about projected U.S. budget deficits and what to do about them, and since the permanent war is a major cause of projected budget deficits, that means the permanent war is on the table.

Furthermore, a key question hanging over the election is this: in America today, is it politically feasible to make the super-rich pay their fair share of taxes? So far, the answer given to this question by the election season seems to be no. Some Democrats thought that they had a winning issue politically in allowing the Bush tax cuts on the super-rich to expire, but, so far, it seems that they were wrong.