Bill Frist says we ought to support efforts to bring “people who call themselves Taliban” into the government of Afghanistan. What an ass. Why you would say that right before an election, I c’ouldn’t say. And Frist is a scumbag who eminently deserves the public coal-raking he’s in for.
That said, I do think it’s worth pointing out that several weeks ago I was at one of these panel events. This very subject came up, and a range of expert-type dudes with generally sound views all thought that this was the thing to do. Their take was that there had long been a Taliban faction that was uncomfotable with the group’s association with Osama bin Laden, and that tried to persuade their colleagues to sell him out after 9/11. They failed, the whole crew got booted from government, and now you get the current situation. But since the hard-core has disproportionately gotten themselves killed, the theory goes, the “moderate Taliban” (not actually especially moderate in their views about domestic governance) now has a stronger hand and it should be possible to cut a deal with them and bring them into the fold.
Blogging involves a lot of discussing issues you don’t really understand, and I really wouldn’t want to claim any expertise in the nuances of Afghan politics, but it seems worth making the point that sensible people are thinking along these lines. It seems to me that, politically speaking, to make any such arrangement work it would be absolutely vital for whomever you cut a deal with to stop calling themselves “Taliban” since it’s never going to fly with Americans under that name.