Commentary Magazine


The Taliban’s Advice to Obama

On Wednesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued the Islamist movement’s official statement in Pashto, which the Open Source Center translated:

1. Obama should fully utilize the new opportunity preventing the United States from acting as world police, focusing on solving own problems, and not allowing the country to burn in the fire of world’s hatred.

2. Obama realizes that Americans are now tired of the war and useless military expenditure. Therefore, he should take into account the demands and expectations of his people, and end the meaningless war. He should not let the United States become notorious by committing more war crimes.

3. Obama realizes that the American nation is tired of the war losses and back-breaking economic crisis. Therefore, he should immediately withdraw his troops from the country and prevent deaths of more US troops.

4. The elements who are currently supporting the United States in our country are indeed the most disgraceful and unwanted faces. Relying on such elements will cost the United States more financial and human losses.

5. Perhaps Obama has now realized well that he has lost the battle in Afghanistan. Therefore, instead of wasting time and telling lies, he should immediately leave our sacred soil and think about his country and people’s lives.

When Obama was first campaigning for president back in 2007, he argued that the Iraq war was a diversion from U.S. national interests, and that the legitimate war—the one which the United States needed to win—was in Afghanistan. His policy since has been to talk back the idea of victory in Afghanistan. By enunciating an artificial deadline for transition and withdrawal, Obama demoralized American allies amongst the Afghans and convinced both Pakistan and the Taliban that their strategy was working.

It is quite telling when one reads the Taliban statement that the first three points effectively encapsulate Obama’s policy: (1) Surrender leadership; (2) Cut the military; and (3) Withdraw, regardless of consequence. Point (4) underlines the fallacy of bringing the Taliban into any political coalition, and suggests the Taliban will turn on and purge pro-Western Afghans as soon as the last American troop departs Afghanistan. Obama may dispute (5), but the idea that Taliban terrorism defeated a superpower is what every Islamist, from Minneapolis to Mogadishu and from Tehran to Timbuktu will conclude, as they plot their future strategy and tactics in their ideological confrontation with Western liberalism.

Eleven years after 9/11, how sad it is that rather than to laugh off the Taliban statement as ridiculous bluster, White House strategy now appears to affirm it.