January 27th, 2010
11:23 AM ET

Your view: Negotiating with the Taliban

One of the focuses of the London Conference on Afghanistan on Thursday will be how to reach a peace with at least some Taliban fighters.

Is it possible? Reader Richard writes, "The only way to effectively negotiate with the Taliban to treat them the way they treat others...mercilessly."

But other readers say it's feasible: "I believe the Afghani Taliban are a rare group that can be negotiated with," says Melanie. "Both sides should sit down, have a healthy meal with good tea and coffee, show respect in speech and actions, and the results will be a miracle."

What do you think? Is negotiating with the Taliban a good idea? Can a peace ever be met with the Taliban? Can lower level Taliban leaders be brought into the political and social fabric of Afghanistan?


Filed under: London conference • Your View
soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. DR.TANVIR

    Let us pray to GOD that those who are sincere and truthful should win this war. GOD is defininetely better knowing. We rely on media reports which are influenced by the one who has control over them. OH GOD make us among the truthful and may our love and support flow towards the truthful.

    April 21, 2010 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. steven lee adams lawrence

    if we try to negotiate with terrorist all we are doing is sending a message that if you use terror tactics eventualy you will get wat you want.

    April 20, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. ghost geezer

    Under no circumstances should there be a negotiated settlement
    with the Taliban. I say that as a liberal who considers our entire
    engagement in the middle east, certainly in Afghanistan, a fiasco
    that may well ruin us if has not already done so.

    But the Taliban...?!?! The world has to know just what the Taliban
    is capable of, and that is just about anything, no matter how violent.
    One might as well negotiate with the Nazi S.S. To let it inside the
    door in so unstable a situation as Afghanistan is to tempt fate
    in an unacceptable if not insane manner. Watch what happens
    if the Taliban is engaged diplomatically. I hope I am wrong, but
    I think that the outcome will be very grim indeed.

    Read Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner for background, also
    The Great War for Civilization by Robert Fisk, and Ghost Wars
    by Steve Coll.

    April 7, 2010 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  4. Angry Canadian

    Look...Im so sick of this stupid war.
    I say let those losers fight it out themselves.....blow up the whole country for all I care..at least tactical nukes will be used for a good cause for a change.
    Im a Canadian & Im fed up with ignorat people.
    Im tired of seeing our men & women fighting in a country where they should wipe themselves out & save us the trouble.
    I lost my closest friend out there 2 years ago..& now the Taliban are going into talks & negoiating & amnesty for those that surrender??? are you kidding me????
    The NATO countries should pull out TODAY...not 2011...not later...I mean NOW!!!!!!
    You people make me sick!!!

    March 15, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Critical Mass

    We have spent our childrens future wealth on things that have not worked, might as well try something cheap and easy.

    March 13, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. abdul

    You are very racist, spoken like a true American.

    March 12, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joe Canadian

    Personally, I think it's time for the Americans to put their ignorance and arrogance aside and start talking to those they don't see eye to eye with. I've read a bunch of comments on this site from what sound to be military hillbillies....kill 'em, blow them up and so on. Well that's the problem with America today. You're all about 'what's ours is ours and what's yours we want, we take'. No wonder you are the most hated country in the world. At least you now have an intelligent leader who will change that. In the mean time, I'm going to sit back and watch hockey while you guys fight other peoples battles for them.

    March 12, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. canoeguy1

    You can certainly negotiate with the Taliban, but what is the objective of such talks? The Taliban believe that they are winning at this point, and will accept nothing less than a return to power in Afghanistan, and the re-instatement of Sharia law. Would we be willing to accept that? To give up everything that's been done in Afghanistan for the last 8 years?
    The only concession the Taliban might make is to distance themselves from AL Quaida.
    I just don't see that the West would be willing to make such a deal at this point. It would make the US and its allies look extremely weak.

    March 12, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. Scootartar

    As the nation with the most powerful miltary in the world it is important to understand the value of opening dialogue with any and all forces opposed to our beliefs. While there are certain demands that are non negotiable, such as equal rights and interantional law, we must also realize our history as a nation is riddled with mistakes and horrible judgements that have affected the opinions of many cultures throughout the world. I have never and will never accept the killing of innocent human beings but we are not as innocent as we like to see ourselves and the only way certain groups of people can act out against our powerful presence is to commit horrible crimes such as the attacks of September 11. This is the nature of war. Committing to talks with our adversaries is an important step to ending violence around the world. We must maintain our strong will with regard to the treatment of human life and at the same time work with these groups to move away from violence, toward peace and prosperity for all cultures.

    March 12, 2010 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. Richard Engdahl

    Can you actually believe a man who says the Taliban is not a terrorist organization when they keep bombing Pakistan?

    March 12, 2010 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jimbo

    Are you people crazy????? These idiots would like nothing more than to kill you in front of your children then kill them. I say no negotiations! shoot them where they stand! it's their way of life or ours people make your choice.

    March 12, 2010 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. Nathanael [desert voice]

    Anthony, while I share your contempt for negotiations with bad leaders, I also am also a Christian who wants to save the people. It's "people, stupid" kind of dilemma. We must be on the side of the people! I advocate that we talk with the Taliban only to the extent that it benefits the people. I do not advocate any deals with the hard core Taliban! Once we secure the well-being of the Afghan people, we will gradually get rid of the bad aples. But we cannot endanger the welfare of the masses just because they are in the grip of a few criminals!

    February 23, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. Anthony

    What kind of question is this? The taliban stands for hatred, death and destruction of the western world in the name of religion! People of this fabric will not negotiate with ne1! Oh yeah maybe Adolf Hitler can descend and bring his high command back with him and he could sit in and negotiate also. This world has changed and unfortunately the free world is taking steps backwards, gees!!!!

    February 23, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. Nathanael [desert voice]

    I agree with Pat on this issue a hundred percent. The Taliban, as I see it, come in all shapes and forms. But at some fundamental level, they are all human. Misguided? Yes. Treacherous? Without doubt. Here is what my German friend, Karl wrote on the Polish Culture Forum, under "World Politics/Afghanistan" (disregard his "strange" style): "Who are Taliban? It would be easy to place a label upon them as evil people with not the right to live, but to be hunted out and killed. Who are these people with the audacity to fight to the death against a superior force. Then disappear into the population as if they are a part of the indigenous population? What is their difference whilst in a crowd, that they would differ?" Basically, what he is saying, is that we must take a deep breath and refashion our way of thinking and remake our truisms. Not all is black and white! let at least hope that the Taliban can be reintegrated into the Afghan society. Let's not dismiss it off-hand!

    February 19, 2010 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. Pat

    The Taliban are different from AlQueda. Many do not share Bin Laden's wish to export terrorism and just want to limit their war to taking over Afganistan. I think they can be negotiated with but should not be offered a place in the Afganistan government. They should be given the opportunity to stop fighting in return for amnesty and the opportunity to rejoin society.

    February 17, 2010 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  16. Nathanael [desert voice]

    It's so easy to write surrrounded by snowy whiteness far away from flying bullets. I don,t want any Taliban killed! Even killing a mosquito which is making my life miserable is for me a serious moral decision. I am risking severe frostbites now trying to feed my starlings, turtledoves, and sparrows on freezing mornings. Each day they miss my crumbs in the snow that keep them alive. The snow is uncommonly deep this year. If the meals are to their satisfaction, they perform sophisticated pirouettes for me, dancing in the snow and in the air. I have discovered that these tiny critters are accomplished artists. They also get along with each other surprisingly well, with the exception of the magpie and the crows, which would rather eat alone. Yet humans are far more important and resourceful than the birds! So I have a message for the Taliban. Find yourselves an educated and people-oriented leader who can speak for you with the other side. A catastrophic lack of communication has developed between you and the Western world. Remedy this! Write in this blog, if need be. Don't let yourselves be killed for nothing, for a cause that is quixotic and shortlived! Don't waste a minute before it is too late! Afghanistan needs you alive, your families and the world needs you!!

    February 15, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  17. wayneman

    oh yeah. we can never win there. get out

    February 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  18. wayneman

    sure. negotiate. after all it worked out so well with the north vietnamese almost 40 years ago!

    February 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Nathanael [desert voice]

    Sam Ram, it is in this life that we seek the Beauty of God and earn the beauty of the next life, not necessarily with blowing ourselves up, and blowing up women and children on the side. Today there was an interesting homily in my Catholic parish about the beauty of the snowy winter made by God. It's good to develop sensitivity to beauty in the daily life! The beauty of the human soul is also important. The Beauty of God Himself is enclosed in the soul. We must seek that, for this is what makes us brothers in the true sense, Christians, Moslems, and Jews! But the Beauty found in God Himself is the most important Beauty that we must seek, and the most difficult. The priest recounted a story which got my attention, which doesn't happen often. There was a priest who visited a sick old man. By his bed, there was an empty chair. The visits followed, and the chair was always there. Finally, the priest asked, what was the reason for the chair. The man said that the chair was there so that Jesus could sit as they spoke day and night. The old man saw God where the priest only saw aan empty chair and a lonely room. Three days later, the man's daughter came to the parish to announce that her father has died. But she added: "he died with his head resting on that chair." I was moved! This is what it means seeking the Beauty of God, living and dying in His lovely hands! By the way, this is a story of an "infidel, " by your standards, Sam Ram. It teaches you that some "infidels" can be very spiritual and very deep.

    February 14, 2010 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  20. Luis

    You do not deal with fundamentalist, drug dealers, terrorist, and ignorant demented fools!
    Making a deal with that scum of the earth will hunt us back. Granting them peace will give them time to recoup, heal, grow stronger, gather resources and then attack us again!
    The only deal is obliteration and total domination. The Talibans and Al Qaeda are worst than Hitler, Stalin, and Mao together.

    NO DEAL!

    February 14, 2010 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  21. Emmad

    This is absurd to negotiate with the Taliban. They have killed so many people and the things they did to Afghanistan could never be forgiven.

    February 13, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  22. SamRam

    "Know that the present life is but a sport and a diversion, an adornment and a cause for boasting among you, and
    a rivalry in wealth and children. It is as a rain whose vegetation pleases the unbelievers;
    then it withers and thou seest it turning yellow, then it becomes orts.

    And in the world to come there is a terrible chastisement, and forgiveness from God and good pleasure;
    and the present life is but the joy of delusion."

    ~Iron / Holy Book of Islam~

    February 13, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Nathanael [desert voice]

    Afghanistan is land-locked and poor, I grant. It needs many things. That is one reason why the Taliban is bad for Afghanistan! Taliban offers only one thing: sharia. It occurred to me recently that Afghanistan should negotiate with Pakistan over an access to the sea. A corredor of so many square miles for so many square miles, elsewhere. But even this won't be enough to lift this nation from poverty. How many weeks or months does it take to ascertain whether there is oil under the surface? President Karzai should be probing for oil right now, with the U.S. help. There is a possibility that Afghanistan has fabulous oil deposits. All this said, I still think that Afghanistan needs schools, universities, doctors and scientists, social scientists in particular. Taliban is simply unable to deliver on this crucial front.

    February 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  24. daffy22

    America can't win in afghanistan any reasonable outcome that our leaders will expect. One thing is you are dealing with extreme poverty in most area's until you eliminate half or more of the populations in afghanistan set up some form of ecomomic developement then there may be some kind of real stability in afghanistan ,but most of or all the populations is muslim and of the islamic faith and i don't see that changing any time soon.Thats why extremism in the islamic faith strated in afghanistan was poverty I don't care what people say this is the root of the cause .The only predator man has on this planet is man himself and diease natural disasters to keep the populations thin out for the amount of resourses it has for any given area in the world.This is the only way we keep a balance of the herds.

    February 13, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  25. Nathanael [desert voice]

    The reason why I am sceptical about George Mill's comment that "Taliban is an idea ... or that it has ideas and philosophy," is because I simply doubt they do! The Taliban is the most backward, anti-idea movement on the face of the earth! It reminds me of Mau-Mau ... which is all but dead, even though Kenya still suffers wounds left by that terrorist group. The "idea" the Taliban represents is itself. The self of the Taliban is backwardness! Historically, only great ideas perdure! No one can dispute that. The opium-generated mumblings die away for lack of foundation. They can inflict a lasting damage and misery, I grant that. But they are losing ideas, not triumphant!

    February 11, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  26. George Mills

    No bomb or any other weapon – no matter how "smart" – can kill an idea. The Taliban and any other extremists will not be eliminated or "controlled" until an almost total majority of Afghans and Pakistanis repudiate their ideas and philosophy. As few as 10% of these people can maintain the Taliban and other extremists practically indefinitely. We really must win "hearts and minds" and Predator strikes with collateral damage, combined with aggressive military action will not achieve this. As was the case in Vietnam, the use of our power is easily turned against us. We are left with two choices: 1) highly intelligent, creative, respectful negotiations, combined with vigorous social development programs that respect the people's culture; or 2) total war with the complete destruction of the Taliban and anyone who might side with them. I pray we chose the former as the later will mean continuous institutionalized warfare that would last for generations and result in the fall of America as it did the Soviet Union.

    February 10, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  27. K Hill

    The Taliban have shown that they are unreasonable in the past. Many religious fanatics seem to need to push their ideas on everyone around them, almost as if they have so little faith in their beliefs that they need to force others to follow their beliefs so they themselves can believe. The injustice to women is especially horrendous. The Taliban have shown in the past that if they are left alone, they just try to take everything over again. Too bad there isn't a small island somewhere where they could be put so they could fight among themselves and leave the rest of of Afghanistan live in peace.

    February 3, 2010 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  28. Ahmad khan

    I think it is a nice idea and the only solution to stop this war in Afghanistan.I am from Afghanistan , As far as i know , the Local people tremendously supports Taliban especially in Suburb Areas. As I have been in Province of Ghazni in the district of Andar, Which has more than 600 villages . Almost 90% of the Area is under the control of Taliban , Because their only Reason of Success is their support of Local People. So Peace Deal is the best way to put an end point to this conflict. I am also sure that by paying them the money , they will not lay down their arms.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Lanny

    It is their country, We should not be seeking to change peoples religious vues,
    Our country was founded on religious freedom. If they don;t like their regligious laws, then it is up to the citizens to change or leave like the Pilgrims.

    Their religion is older than ours, Get our an let them have the forsaken place,, nothing but a big popy seed farm, and crooked nuts.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Parween

    Russian War did not work, I think fighting by weapons will not work with them. They just don't want any body to occupy their country, so I think peace talk might work. It is a very difficult task. I think that by us being there, we are wasting a lot of moeny and lose a lot of our young soldiers, plus a lot of innocent civilians get killed. We should instead use this moeny to creat jobs for them and work on building the country to let them know that we are their friends, not their enemies. To be honest with you, if we stay there longer, it is a big mistake. The other great problem is that Mr. Karzai has all these theives around him with big positions. Like Dostam, etc. So the money that goes to them is divided between these thieves. We should create a better system, so the money goes directly to the community, not to the government.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Tiller in Texas

    What good would it do not to pull our troops out of the country, keep flying drons over them and kill as many as possible.

    These people are 5th generation religious war fanatics, their life history knows nothing but fighting. Leave them be and just try to keep them out of our country. Secure our land.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Nathanael [desert voice]

    Amir Shirazi, did Bin Laden told you that "he is not there", in Afghanistan? He never said anything to me.

    February 2, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Nathanael [desert voice]

    I agree with Fran Mars on Iraq, although the topic is Afghanistan. Iraq must be divided in three parts, or this bloodshed will never stop! I have said it a hundred times. As for stripping Afghanistan frrom nationhood, that is a non starter. Again, in Realpolitik good intentions aren't enough. What is needed is a thorough knowledge of history and the ability to read the signs of times. Having said this, I wouldn't mess with Afghanistan's national cohesion for now. What is needed, and what will likely be resolved this year, is the future of the militant Taliban. Aghanistan should not live under the gun! The country deserves peace and prosperity within the framework of modernity, not Middle Ages!

    February 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Rob2tall

    Never give in to terrorists.
    Bush?Cheney?Rumsfeld tried to win he Taliban over by allowing them to stay seated in Afghanistans new Democracy-The Taliban are ruthless murders-they cut off womens breasts so they can't provide milk to children!-And who wants to call it a cease fire?
    Is this a GOP idea?
    Good grief-If pakistan supports them-cut off all aid to them.
    Cut off all aid to any nation that directly or indirectly supports terrorist organizations.
    Period!

    February 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
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