You'd better sit down.
Today Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist suggested that the best way to deal with the increasing Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan … is to reintegrate the group into the Afghani government.
From the AP via the International Herald-Tribune:
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan guerrilla war can never be won militarily and called for efforts to bring the Taliban and their supporters into the Afghan government.
The Tennessee Republican said he had learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated by military means.
What? Surely not. I mean, didn't Ann Coulter tell us in August that things in Afghanistan were going “swimmingly”?
More from the IHT:
Afghanistan is being rocked by the worst outbreak of violence since the ouster of the Taliban regime in the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
“We're going to need to stay here a long time,” Frist said.
The senator said he had been warned to expect attacks in Afghanistan to increase. There appears to be an “unlimited flow” of Afghans and foreigners, he said, “willing to pick up arms and integrate themselves with the Taliban.”
There's only one local Republican who could possibly think this is good news: Dana Rohrabacher.
As reported in the Weekly, back in 1996 Congressman Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) told the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs that Taliban leaders are “not terrorists or revolutionaries” and that their “takeover of Afghanistan would be a positive development” for the U.S. (Mr. Taliban, R. Scott Moxley, Dec. 25 2003). Now that his boys are back in town, Rohrabacher can look forward to a whole new era of dehumanizing assaults on the rights and bodies of women in Afghanistan.
From a 2001 State Department report, “The Taliban's War Against Women”:
The assault on the status of women began immediately after the Taliban took power in Kabul. The Taliban closed the women's university and forced nearly all women to quit their jobs, closing down an important source of talent and expertise for the country. It restricted access to medical care for women, brutally enforced a restrictive dress code, and limited the ability of women to move about the city.
The Taliban perpetrated egregious acts of violence against women, including rape, abduction, and forced marriage. Some families resorted to sending their daughters to Pakistan or Iran to protect them.
The Taliban: militant enforcers of that age old doctrine, “Bros before hoes”. Kudos to the Daily Kos for fighting to squeeze this issue into today's 24-hour news cycle – as it stands, Fox, CNN and MSNBC can't get past the Amish school shooting and the search for missing 2-year-old Trent Duckett. Or (he said sheepishly) even more details on Republican uber-pedophile Mark Foley.
In a 2002 statement, Frist said that “The test of our resolve in the war on terror was Afghanistan.” Sounds like we failed the test.
UPDATE: FRIST RESPONDS
Bill “Dr. Giggles” Frist made the following hysterical response regarding his Taliban comments on the Volunteer Political Action Committee blog – except I don't think he was trying to be funny.
Taliban is a murderous band of terrorists who've oppressed the people of Afghanistan with their hateful ideology long enough. America's overthrow of the Taliban and support for responsible, democratic governance in Afghanistan is a great accomplishment that should not and will not be reversed.
Having discussed the situation with commanders on the ground, I believe that we cannot stabilize Afghanistan purely through military means. Our counter-insurgency strategy must win hearts and minds and persuade moderate Islamists potentially sympathetic to the Taliban to accept the legitimacy of the Afghan national government and democratic political processes.
It never ceases to amaze me how offensive politicians can be when they're trying to make amends. Moderate Islamists almost by definition could not be sympathetic to the Taliban. The Taliban, like Jerry Falwell's constituency, is a refuge of only the extremest of extremists and nut-jobs. Take another look at that State Department report:
Islam has a tradition of protecting the rights of women and children. In fact, Islam has specific provisions which define the rights of women in areas such as marriage, divorce, and property rights. The Taliban's version of Islam is not supported by the world's Muslims. Although the Taliban claimed that it was acting in the best interests of women, the truth is that the Taliban regime cruelly reduced women and girls to poverty, worsened their health, and deprived them of their right to an education, and many times the right to practice their religion. The Taliban is out of step with the Muslim world and with Islam.
To suggest that moderate Islamists could even potentiallybe sympathetic to the Taliban is like saying moderate Christians are lining up to rebuild the Third Temple in Jerusalem, genetically engineer a red heifer, and pray for the Apocalypse by Wednesday so they can make it to heaven before the weekend traffic.
If that's not enough for you, howsabout your friendly neighborhood Economist? The following is an excerpt from the June 29th issue of the magazine, discussing Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys. Though he has tenuous and dated ties to terrorism, Aweys “now distances himself from al-Qaeda,” but is still considered radical due to his rigid belief in sharia law.
Foreign diplomats trying to mediate between the Supreme Council and the transitional government are trying to engage moderate Islamists without alienating radicals like Mr Aweys.
What did The Economist decide to title this article about a radical Islamist? Not the new Taliban, yet. When even the radical Islamists are distancing themselves from al-Qaeda, Frist expects us to believe that moderates could be sympathetic to the Taliban?
Maybe Frist was better off when taken out of context. At least then he was willing to compromise; now he just sounds stupid.