Rising to prominence in the wake of a power vacuum after years of devastating war in the late twentieth century, the Taliban derives its name from a plural version of the Arabic word talib or student because it was first controlled by disaffected youths educated in Pakistani madrassas.
An extremist group of radical Islamist militants, the Taliban has forced members of minority religions within Afghanistan to wear tags to identify themselves as non-Muslims, instituted medieval punishments such as stoning and amputation for petty crimes, outlawed free speech and education for women who are now treated by Taliban men as less than chattel, sanctioned murder, and reigned with uplifted fists closed as iron tight around guns as any Nazi fascist’s in the dark days of Hitler. The Taliban has openly harbored terrorists, killed American soldiers, and brutalized local populations with a totalitarian mindset focused on restoring an absolutist (and ideally global) caliphate in which human rights are secondary to an ideology built upon a terrifying zealotry.
Yet President Obama announced as part of an American drawdown from Afghanistan, our country is about to “reconcile [with] the Afghan people, including the Taliban.” Furthermore, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, “You end wars, unfortunately, by talking with people whose interests and values are very much opposite of yours."
Is it common practice to leave a political entity with different interests and values, which many in the United States consider evil, standing in a country after they have been brought militarily to their knees? If so, why bother to go to war to topple them from power in the first place? Why did we follow a policy of deNazification after World War II? Why did Allied powers occupy Japan for seven years after an unconditional surrender that required a new constitution be written? How were those countries rebuilt in a more Western image when we certainly did not initially share the same ideals?
I understand that Afghanistan is a complex and multilayered political problem for the Obama administration. The years of war under Bush were no less frustrating. I also must acknowledge we have achieved part of our mission by destabilizing al-Qaida in the region and killing Osama bin Laden. However, if we are to claim any moral authority — or to seek any long-term solutions in what has long been a troubled country — it seems nonsensical to pretend the Taliban, which can’t be ignored ever again, can be moderated now through diplomacy.
Rather, if any move towards freedom or enlightenment or human dignity is ever to be made — those things we portend to uphold — a malicious group like this one, which is not even as old as I am, must be disabled, disbanded, destroyed before it takes deeper root. Period.