The White House’s recent drive to end the war in Afghanistan includes efforts to bring about a negotiated peace with various groups including, but not limited to, the Taliban. The strategy brought CIA director David Petraeus to hold exploratory talks with Ghairat Baheer, the son-in-law of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar despite Hekmatyar’s past support for the Taliban and al Qaeda attacks.
But the White House’s efforts to explore a negotiated settlement to the 10-year war in Afghanistan haven’t been welcomed by the administration’s hawkish critics. J.D. Gordon, a Fox News contributor and former Herman Cain foreign policy adviser said to Fox News’ Jonathan Hunt last Friday that negotiating with the Taliban was akin to doing business with Nazis:
JONATHAN HUNT: The Taliban are still trying to kill us on pretty much a daily if not hourly basis and now we’re going to talk to the Taliban. Where’s the logic in that?
J.D. Gordon: I don’t really think there’s a lot of logic other than the administration’s desire to get out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible, which I could understand. […] But I think negotiating with the Taliban is a mistake because, number one, they’re terrorists. And number two, they’re a lot like the Nazis. Instead of being supremacists for race though, they’re supremacists for their tribe and supremacists for their religion.
Gordon, whose foreign policy background includes serving as a public affairs officer at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and working at various right-wing pressure groups, continued his simplistic explanation of Afghanistan’s tribal politics with the observation, “If you look at Afghanistan you see it’s so much of a different country than the West.”
Gordon’s less than insightful analysis might offer some explanation for Herman Cain’s inability to lay out a cohesive foreign policy vision.
But while Gordon and Fox News choose to portray the U.S.’s involvement in Afghanistan as analogous to the European theater of World War II, Stephen Hadley of the U.S. Institute of Peace and John Podesta, chair of the Center for American Progress, argued in a ForeignPolicy.com column last week that the war in Afghanistan “will not end by military means alone.” Hadley, a George W. Bush administration adviser, and Podesta, chief of staff in the Clinton White House, concluded that “Efforts to reach a settlement should include an approach to Taliban elements that are ready to give up the fight and become part of the political process.”
The authors pushed back at critics, such as Gordon, writing, “Such an approach would not — as some have suggested — constitute ‘surrender’ to America’s enemies. Rather, convincing combatants to leave the insurgency and enter into the political process is the hallmark of a successful counterinsurgency effort.”
This post originally characterized J.D. Gordon’s foreign policy background as “limited to” serving as a public affairs officer at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This has been corrected to reflect that his foreign policy background “includes” serving as a public affairs officer at Guantanamo Bay. Gordon’s full professional biography can be viewed here.