Two years ago, Jack Layton asserted that the Afghan government would need to begin a dialogue with the Taliban before it could hope to secure a lasting peace. For his trouble, Layton was relentlessly vilified by Stephen Harper and his party of canting hoydens and was roasted on a slow spit by the CPC blogosphere. A flurry of repugnant, slanderous virtual spit-balls were pitched, as "Taliban Jack" was denounced as a terrorist appeaser at best, and a Taliban-loving traitor at worst.
Now we hear that the Hamid Karzai regime--the folks for whose sake our soldiers are dying and whom our pro-war hawks extol as the bright, shining beacons of democracy and progress--are using Canadian soldiers as go-betweens in negotiations with (take a breath...) the Taliban. We read the following:
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half brother of Afghanistan's president, said something needs to be done to stop "the madness" of the deadly insurgency. Canadian troops in Afghanistan are reportedly reaching out to low-and mid-level insurgents, encouraging them through local villagers to sit down with Afghan authorities and perhaps even NATO forces. "I absolutely support the Canadian decision," Ahmed Wali Karzai, head of the Kandahar provincial council, told The Canadian Press in an interview Thursday. "It's a very wise and proper decision. There are people (with whom) we can talk and reason."
Naturally, our government makes it clear that Stephen Harper will not personally take any calls from Mullah Omar, but the government does support Karzai's outreach to the Islamist maniacs:
Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier and International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda were also asked about it. Both said Ottawa supports the Afghan government's position, which is that Kabul is willing to talk to people who respect the Afghan constitution and renounce violence.
I guess neither Bernier nor Oda got the memo: in the field, where decisions are being driven by hard realities and practical necessity rather than the spin requirements of CPC hacks, Kabul is talking to anybody who is willing to talk, quite regardless of whether they renounce violence or respect Afghanistan's already-theocratic constitution.
This development will not come as news to anybody whose knowledge of the Afghan situation has been gleaned through impartial, unbiased sources, but it must be shocking to all those CPC Layton-haters who thought our mission was to destroy the Taliban, not chat with them. I wonder what they say to this:
President Hamid Karzai has since called for peace talks with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, but militants have insisted foreign forces must leave first and that the country adhere more strictly to Islamic law.
Thus, the man on behalf of whose government we're fighting has already sued for peace and been turned down. Karzai has already gotten on his knees before the Mullah, who simply chuckled and waltzed away.
"Conservative" myrmidons and their lap dogs in the yellow press shout themselves hoarse insisting that we are prevailing in Afghanistan and that the Taliban are paleolithic monstrosities totally unworthy of the legitimacy negotiation would confer upon them; meanwhile, Karzai--the West's Afghan tribune--is literally begging the Taliban to talk to him. You'll note that neither Churchill nor Roosevelt nor Stalin ever invited Hitler to peace talks. In war, winners don't talk peace; losers do. Call it the "Pétain Principle".
If Stephen Harper truly believes that negotiating with the Taliban is as fully reprehensible, unconscionable and unthinkable as he and his acolytes said it was when they heaped their odium on Jack Layton, he needs to do two things: first, he must order a halt to the program of negotiation that Canadians in the field have reportedly already begun (and he must make that order public, so that his supporters may have their faith in the mission's fundamentally anti-Taliban integrity restored); secondly, he must either retro-fit Karzai's administration with a backbone, or insist upon the installation of a new one--otherwise, Harper will be faced with the humiliating necessity of admitting that his precious little Afghan mission consists of Canadian soldiers getting blown up on behalf of a regime that negotiates with terrorists.
In the short term, I think Chairman Harper and his comrades in the Great Patriotic Culture War owe Jack Layton an apology. Since our fallen soldiers have died in the service of Jack Layton's Afghan strategy, I can think of no better way to honour their sacrifice than to honour the man who embodies its premise.