The next time someone’s compiling a book of inspiring speeches by wartime leaders, Hamid Karzai’s response to the suicide bombing that killed 30 Afghan military personnel on Saturday is unlikely to feature alongside the words of Churchill, Thatcher and Franklin Roosevelt.
Rather than vowing that the terrorists would never again impose their will on the Afghan people, and indeed would be hunted down and killed, the President’s response to the atrocity was to invite the perpetrators of the attack to join his government, and ask exactly how high they wanted him to jump.
The Taleban’s response, in addition to dismissing Karzai’s offer out of hand, has been to issue its very own constitution for Afghanistan, lest anyone should be confused as to their intentions towards the country. As the UK’s Telegraph reports, the 7th Century lobby appears to have won out over the Jeffersonian wing:
The 23-page document envisages a country where women would remain veiled and uneducated, "un-Islamic thought" would be banned and human rights would be ignored if "contrary with the teachings of Islam".
No doubt the UN will be prepared to meet them half-way on that last point.
As the Telegraph notes, Karzai isn’t the only one who regards the Taleban as potential ‘partners for peace’. Last week, Britain’s pitiful excuse for a Defence Secretary, Des Browne, said Afghanistan’s erstwhile oppressors would need to be involved in the peace process. But it’s Karzai who’s the real worry.
After Saturday’s bombing he said he wished he could contact Taleban leader Mullah Omar and warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to ask why they were "trying to destroy Afghanistan". As if that wasn’t enough, he said he would meet both men personally, and even offer them cabinet posts, if it would help to bring about peace. There’s a thought: Mullah Omar as Minister for Women’s Education.
Karzai lived in exile in Pakistan for most of the Taleban’s rule. Maybe he thinks the stories about life under the mullahs have been exaggerated – executions in the soccer stadium? Come on! And perhaps he’s also prepared to let the several attempts the Taleban have made on his life (they also assassinated his father) be bygones.
Or maybe he’s just been spending too much time with the multi-culturalist, multi-lateralist bureaucrats of the UN and the EU, who have yet to encounter a threat to human life and liberty that can’t be dealt with by means of a five-nation working party, a sprinkling of special envoys and a week of seminars at a nice hotel in Europe.
Of course, Karzai knows precisely why the Taleban and their al-Qaeda allies want to destroy his country: because a peaceful, stable Afghanistan led by Islamic moderates and with ties to the West is a very large obstacle to the extremists’ dreams of restoring the Caliphate over large areas of the Middle East and Asia. So perhaps Karzai's words were no more than a cry from the heart from a man tasked with an almost unbearable responsibility.
But if Karzai is in fact ‘going wobbly’, this isn’t the time. Coalition forces are killing Taleban fighters at a prodigious rate, including 200 or so in the past week. Assorted jihadis are fighting among themselves over the border in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and according to this article in The American Thinker, al-Qaeda is on the run and getting pounded in the vicinity of Tora Bora.
The occasional bombing, however devastating, doesn't mean the Taleban can't be beaten; on the contrary, such attacks are a sign of their increasingly desperate attempts to terrorize the population into rejecting Karzai and his Western allies.
Thousands of former Taleban fighters have already laid down their arms and pledged to work with the Afghan government, and it makes perfect sense for Karzai to reach out to other moderate elements. But there’s no negotiating with the extremists; Mullah Omar is the epitome of extremism, and he and his followers need to be killed or captured. Karzai can talk to the survivors all he likes at Bagram airport, when they’re shackled to chairs and dressed in orange jumpsuits.