Home > Foreign Policy > White House & VP Say the Taliban Isn’t U.S. Enemy?

White House & VP Say the Taliban Isn’t U.S. Enemy?

December 22nd, 2011

12.22.2011 original publish date
08.27.2012 article update (new information integrated in original article). Also replaced broken links.
06.18.2013 Inserted [numbered brackets] for easier referencing

The Taliban are seeking the release of these four key Taliban leaders with known terrorism ties to al Qaeda, currently being held by U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay. The Obama Administration is considering their release back to Afghanistan. (Source: LongWarJournal.org/ Reuters)

White House & VP Say the Taliban Isn’t U.S. Enemy?

original article written by Net Advisor

Washington DC. Vice President Joe Biden recently stated, “the Taliban per se is not our enemy.” The White House initially came out with damage control by sending their master re-framer Jay Carney to ‘clarify’ the Vice President’s comments (Video).

Carney, referring to Biden’s comments said, “It’s only regrettable when taken out of context.”

Taken out of context? This suggests there is some “error” in the message. So let’s take a look at the entire message and what is at stake here.
Biden’s full quote:

“Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical,” Biden said. “There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy, because it threatens U.S. interests. 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.”

Vice President Joe Biden said in interview with Newsweek

[1] New White House Military Semantics
Speaking on behalf of the White House is what the Press Secretary does for a living. White House Press Secretary Carney seems to suggest conflicting statements.

1. Carney defends Biden’s comments about the Taliban ‘not being the enemy.’

2. Press Secretary Carney admits that the United States is in fact fighting (militarily) with the Taliban:

“The Taliban per se, while we are fighting them…the elimination of the Taliban is not the issue here. “

— White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said 12-21-11, Video @1:36 to 1:40)

Mr. Carney, no one has suggested that the U.S. goal is to kill all the Talibanper se; the question here is whether the current Administration considers the Taliban an “enemy” of the United States?

So while the U.S. military are and have been engaging battle directly with the Taliban, they are “not the enemy?” Are we all clear on this? Let’s put this in more explicit context to clarify the underline facts:

U.S. troops are being shot at and killed in Afghanistan by a group that includes the Taliban; however they are not really the enemy? Is that what Carney is saying? Now of course neither Carney nor the White House will admit to such plain explicit context but those are the facts. Usually when you have soldiers in a fire fight with an opposing military party, usually both parties refer to each other as the “enemy.”

Clearly this Administration does not think those killing U.S. soldiers are not an enemy? Also there is a unicorn in my backyard, and every child will have a pony with saddlebags of solid gold coins for Christmas.  This is how far from reality this Administration has become, when we no longer call the enemy, “an enemy.” Next, are we going to have Section 8 housing for unemployed terrorists in Chicago?

[2] Facts Seem to Keep Getting in the Way of Obama’s Policies: Taliban History 101
While facts seem to be things that the Administration has a difficult time with, let’s explore some history on this “non-enemy” – the Taliban.

FACTS About the Taliban

FACT: “The Taliban, an Islamic extremist group, took control of Afghanistan’s government in 1996 and ruled until the 2001 U.S.-led invasion drove it from power.”

FACT: “The group is known for having provided safe haven to al-Qaeda and its erstwhile leader Osama bin Laden.”

FACT“(The Taliban) remains resilient in the region and operates parallel governance structures aimed at undermining the U.S.-backed central government.”

FACT“U.S. officials have accused Iran of abetting the Taliban by supplying militants with Iranian-made weapons–including deadly roadside bombs that have killed a disproportionate number of U.S. service members.”

FACTPakistan seem to be a safe haven for Taliban leaders, that also included 9-11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden.

“The Taliban movement remains loyal (PDF), to varying degrees, to Omar, writes Kenneth Katzman, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs at the Congressional Research Service. Omar, and many of his top advisers, reportedly are based in the Pakistani city of Quetta, and are usually referred to as the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST).”

— Source:  Council on Foreign Relations, 10-06-2011 Report on the Taliban in Afghanistan (PDF) (direct link)

Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium (heroin) producer. (Source: CIA.gov) Report: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Report: Afghanistan Opium Survey 2010)

6. “The Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan; widespread corruption and instability impede counterdrug efforts; most of the heroin consumed in Europe and Eurasia is derived from Afghan opium.”

— Source:  CIA.gov World Fact Book (Local PDF, 17pps) (direct link)

A Biden spokesperson attempted to try and repaint the situation.

“The Vice President was not wrong to say that ‘the Taliban, per se, is not our enemy,'” a Biden spokesperson said in a statement. “He was restating what has long been the Administration’s core goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Politicians who criticize his remarks are either ignorant of why we are fighting in Afghanistan, or playing politics with issues of war and peace. Either way they are profoundly wrong.”

— Source: CBS News, 12-21-2011

Unfortunately for the current Administration, the White House Press Secretary, Vice President Biden, and his spokesperson all try to defend their statements, but refuse to admit that they are all wrong.

FACT: The Taliban is NOT a friend of the United States. Friends of the United States don’t engage in military combat with the United States. Hello?

FACT: The Taliban have been engaging WAR with the U.S. military in Afghanistan for over 10 years (since post 9-11-2001).

FACT: The Taliban has sympathy and support from Pakistan and Iran.

FACT: A Taliban commander linked to Iran and terrorists.

FACT: The Taliban have ties to and have harbored terrorists.

In 2012, the Taliban appointed a leader with close ties to al Qaeda:

“Sheikh Mohammed Aminullah, who in 2009 was placed on the United Nations Sanctions Committee’s list of “individuals and entities associated with al Qaeda,” has been named to lead the Taliban’s Peshawar Regional Military Shura, which is responsible for operations in eastern and northern Afghanistan.”

— Source: Long War Journal, 01-09-2012

[3] So Why is the Obama Administration Coddling the Taliban?
That’s a good question. The U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan has been costly in terms of lives and dollars (PDF Report, 59pps). Both the Bush and Obama Administrations failed to heed the history of Afghanistan under rule of the British Empire to the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. (Please see our 28-page report on Afghanistan.)

Despite the Obama Administration’s vague response(s), there have been multiple reports that the United States held ongoing talks with the Taliban.

“Peace talks are going on with the Taliban. The foreign military and especially the United States itself is going ahead with these negotiations,” Karzai said in a speech in Kabul.

— Source: Reuters, 06-18-2011

Further,

“Negotiations have begun, and the Taliban have shown interest,” said Waheed Mujda, who was a government official during the Taliban regime and maintains contact with Taliban leaders…U.S. officials met three times this spring with Mohammed Tayeb Agha, an aide to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, and have pushed to take Taliban leaders off a United Nations blacklist, a move that would make it easier for them to travel abroad.”

— Source: Los Angeles Times, 06-28-2011

Another report seems to corroborate the U.S. negotiations with the Taliban in 2011.

“U.S. officials this summer secretly met with leaders of the deadly Haqqani network, the Afghan militant group closely tied to al Qaeda, in an effort to draw them into talks on winding down the war.”

— Source: Wall Street Journal, 10-05-2011 (PDF)

It used to be that the U.S. would not negotiate with terrorists, but that does not seem to apply under the current Administration. It could be argued that the initial goal of the Taliban is to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan. That is likely a shared goal with the U.S.

“Nearly a decade after the U.S.-led military intervention began, little has been done to challenge the perverse incentives of continued conflict in Afghanistan. Insecurity and the inflow of billions of dollars in international assistance has failed to significantly strengthen the state’s capacity to provide security or basic services.”

— Source: CrisisGroup.org (Executive Summary) (PDF Report, 42pps), 06-2011 (direct link)

The CrisisGroup.org 2011 report seems to mirror part of our 2010 report that discussed how despite the Obama Administration’s attempt to aid, restructure, and re-socialize Afghanistan; that the British and the Russians could not do this either over the last 172 years.

[4] Negotiate what With the Taliban?
If the United States wants to leave Afghanistan (and we should – asap), they should just do so. There is no need to negotiate that effort with anyone else. That is a matter of U.S. policy, not Taliban-Afghanistan policy. The U.S. should not give any concessions of money or aide of any kind to any group that has in the past or currently has ties to terrorism, or who engages war with the United States as do the Taliban.

What is not been well discussed is how the Obama Administration is considering the release of KNOWN Taliban al Qaeda terrorists currently being held at Guantanamo Bay (photos top of this article).

“The four Taliban leaders are:

Abdul Haq Wasiq (former Taliban deputy minister of intelligence), Mullah Norullah Noori (a former Taliban governor and military commander), Mullah Mohammed Fazl (the Taliban army’s chief of staff), and Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa (the former Taliban governor of Herat province).”

— Source: TheLongWarJournal.org

All four have been determined as “enemy combatants” supporting the Taliban and or al Qaida forces per unclassified documents obtained by the New York Times.

[5] Worst Foreign Policy Move by Any Leader in the Free World?
The New York Times article lists by name and location numerous “transfers” (releases) of enemy combatants to other counties including back to Afghanistan where the war with the United States and its allies continue to be fought. To put this in more simple terms, we put together a quick quiz. See how you would handle this situation.

[6] WAR QUIZ: You are the leader. What do you do?

Imagine you are a president of a powerful country; we’ll call it the United States. Regardless of your political affiliation, you are caught in the middle of a 10+ year war and 1,000’s of your own troops have been killed by the enemy. You have already taken out key operatives including the leader (Osama bin-Laden), whom you have been seeking for some 10 years.

Do you:
(a) Analyze the war in terms of lives and costs to see if the objectives are satisfied? What are your goals now, and timeline to achieve them? Are the goals realistic? Does it make sense to continue the war this time? If yes, continue (a1) ; If no, end the war (a2).

(b) Conclude you have achieved your goals as best as realistically possibly and bring troops home in a quick and safe manner?

(c) Continue fighting the war. Try and rebuild the country while you are fighting the war. Go into debt by spending billions and billions of dollars to continue the cause. Suffer causalities every day, week or month even though 172 years of history has shown that you will never realistically be able to re-socialize the domestic ideology in Afghanistan?

(d) Release enemy soldiers caught on the battlefield back to where the war is ongoing. Release more enemy combatants to other counties with no guarantee that the enemy will not end up fighting you again?

[7] What the Obama Administration is doing and has done.
We would like to think the Obama Administration is doing (a) above. But what we do know for sure is the Administration is doing (c) and (d) too. Despite the fantasy to re-socialize Afghanistan, arguably the last thing a leader would ever do is release enemy troops back into an active war.

[8] Constitutional Issues on Aiding the Enemy?
Not to suggest any conclusions, however as a matter of technical reference, under Article 8 Section 3, the United States Constitution prohibits giving “aid and comfort” to an enemy of the United States. If, as the Obama Administration does not consider the Taliban an “enemy” then, Article 8, Section 3 would not likely apply.

The only challenge here is that the Executive Branch does not have sole Constitutional authority to deem one an enemy of the United States. Ultimately that power resides with the Congress. Per Article 3, Section 3, of the U.S. Constitution states, “The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.” Few cases of treason have been brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, in this case, it seems that at best, negotiating with this enemy is just highly questionable foreign policy judgement.

“WAR ON TERROR: Feds say an African ring agreed to sell drugs to finance the Taliban and supply weapons to the Afghan terrorists.” (Source: NY Post)

[9] More Taliban Fact Check
Meanwhile, while U.S. and NATO troops continue to battle the Taliban in Afghanistan, this group continues to claim responsibility for deadly attacks against Americans and our allies. The following are a few random examples of violence claimed by the Taliban, who this U.S. Administration, their spokes person(s), and the Vice President say the Taliban is ‘not an enemy’ of the United States.

FACT: 04-08-2011 “Gunmen, suicide bombers attack Afghan police complex…The Taliban claimed responsibility.” (Source: Los Angeles Times)

FACT: 04-28-2011 “9 Americans are killed by Afghan pilot…The Taliban claimed responsibility.” (Source: Los Angeles Times)

FACT: 08-08-2011 “Taliban Claims Responsibility for Deadly Helicopter Attack in Afghanistan.” (Source: Fox News)

FACT: 09-13-2011 “U.S. Embassy in Kabul attacked; Taliban claims responsibility.” (Source: Los Angeles Times)

FACT: 09-13-2011 (“Pakistani”) Taliban claim responsibility for school bus attack. (Source: MS-NBC)

FACT: 10-31-2011 “The Taliban is claiming responsibility for an attack on U.N. offices in Kandahar, Afghanistan that killed four people. The attack comes two days after another Taliban-claimed attack killed 17 people.” (Source: CBS News Video)

FACT: 12-16-2011 “Taliban claims responsibility for Kabul police station attack.” (Source: New York Post)

FACT: 12-21-2011 A road-side bomb killed five Polish troops. The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility. (Source: BBC News)

There are plenty of references out there. Here are just a few recent ones in 2012.

FACT: 05-02-2012  Taliban Claims Responsibility For Kabul Attack – right after Obama visit. (Source: NPR.org)

FACT: 08-27-2012  7 American service members die in Afghan copter crash. Taliban claims responsibility. (Source: Washington Times)

FACT: 08-27-2012  Afghan security forces kill 2 U.S. troops, 10 Afghan soldiers in 2 attacks. (Source: CNN)

FACT: 08-27-2012  Seventeen Afghan party-goers beheaded by Taliban (Source: The Guardian.UK)

Anti-Gun Policy Gets Troops Killed? U.S. & NATO Troops and Personnel Not Armed While on Base – Until Now?

Under apparent previous order, not all U.S. and NATO troops and personnel were armed while on base in Afghanistan. Does the Obama Administration know there is a war going on there?

“all troops at NATO headquarters and all bases across Afghanistan now ordered to carry loaded weapons around the clock.”

— Source: CNN, 08-18-2012

The only reason why troops etc., are ordered to carry weapons on bases in Afghanistan now is because the bases are being infiltrated and attacked by the enemy. Would you go to a war-zone unarmed? There are plenty of anti-gun people in the Administration, and it just seems to suggest that some thought it would not be “safe” if guns were held by U.S., NATO troops and personal while on military bases in a war-zone? One cannot win a firefight unarmed. It would be a gross error to assume that your enemy could never attack you on a military base while fighting a war in that very same country. This is the foreign policy and the mind-set of this Administration.

[10] U.S. Has National Security Priorities Wrong
To release known terrorists back into humanity is just a bad idea. The Taliban will appear to do and say anything to get whatever they want. Once they get what they want, they will eventually turn back to their old ways.

If the Obama Administration thinks the Taliban will ever comply with any U.S. negotiation, please let me introduce you to 172 years of Afgan history that included other super powers such as the British Empire and the former Soviet Union who both thought they could control Afghanistan’s tribal governments and their followers and both failed. If the White House still thinks the Taliban is not the enemy, clearly the White House is in gross denial of foreign policy and historical facts.

Follow-up Report:
2012.02.02 White House Steps Up Plan to Release al-Qaeda Supporters to the Taliban

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Net Advisor™ has long followed global events, developed military strategy games, and in 1993 while attending a major private University, wrote a research report titled: “International Terrorism: Challenge to U.S. Intelligence.” See Net Advisor™ ‘s other reports on terrorism and U.S. foreign policy.

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