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October 03, 2006 06:06 AM UTC

Bill Frist Wants to Bring the Taliban into the Afghan Government

  • by: Mr. Toodles…

I seem to remember him saying something about the dems being defeatist and wanting to cut and run. Now to be fair, that is not what he is exactly saying, but it amazing that the Taliban is ok, because, hey, they are too strong.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that this might hurt his election chances in ’08, that is if he decides to run.

“U.S. Senate majority leader calls for efforts to bring Taliban into Afghan government
The Associated Press

QALAT, Afghanistan 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.

“You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government,” Frist said during a brief visit to a U.S. and Romanian military base in the southern Taliban stronghold of Qalat. “And if that’s accomplished we’ll be successful.”

Frist said asking the Taliban to join the government was a decision to be made by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican from Florida accompanying Frist, said negotiating with the Taliban was not “out of the question” but that fighters who refused to join the political process would have to be defeated.

“A political solution is how it’s all going to be solved,” he said.

In violence on Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up next to a NATO convoy in the capital Kabul, wounding three soldiers and three civilians, while a roadside bomb in the eastern Paktia province killed three Afghan soldiers and wounded three others, officials said.

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. Militants have increasingly resorted to suicide attacks and roadside bombs.

Frist, who said he would announce whether he would run for the U.S. presidency in about a month, said he had hoped that the United States would be able to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan soon. But the 20,000 U.S. troops are still needed to help the 37-country coalition deal with an intensifying Taliban insurgency.

“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.”

He said the only way to win in places like Qalat is to “assimilate people who call themselves Taliban into a larger, more representative government.”

“Approaching counterinsurgency by winning hearts and minds will ultimately be the answer,” Frist said. “Military versus insurgency one-to-one doesn’t sound like it can be won. It sounds to me … that the Taliban is everywhere.”

Frist and Martinez flew to this dust-blown mountain city 350 kilometers (220 miles) south of Kabul during a one-day stop in Afghanistan on a regional tour that includes stops in Pakistan and Iraq.

The pair had intended to visit a new US$6.5 million (€5.1 million) hospital in Qalat built by the United Arab Emirates, but a group of wounded Taliban fighters were recuperating there, including a midlevel commander, and U.S. commander Lt. Col. Kevin McGlaughlin canceled the visit because of security concerns.

The senators saw firsthand the legendary hostility to outsiders of tribal southern Afghanistan. As Frist’s helicopter landed, children just outside the base threw stones. And the senator’s first act on Forward Operating Base Lagman was to pin a purple heart on the base’s medic, Capt. Jacqueline King of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, who had been badly burned in a June suicide bombing.

“It’s rough,” King, 42, told reporters and members of Frist’s staff. “They’re not exactly thrilled to see us here.”

Soldiers based in Qalat have been hit by more than 100 roadside bombs since arriving in April, said Air Force Capt. Kevin Tuttle.

The troops here monitor the headquarters for a provincial reconstruction team that has been repairing roads, mentoring doctors at the new hospital and operating a trade school that teaches nursing, welding, auto repair and plumbing.

Frist also chatted with fellow Tennessee surgeon Lt. Col. Steve Jarrard, 46, of Johnson City, in the base hospital.

“I really hope we’re doing the right thing over here,” Jarrard said, the late afternoon sun burnishing the neighboring mountain peaks. “It’s too expensive. I’ve seen too many guys on the operating table. I try to bring them through and I’m not always successful.”

Three NATO-led troops received minor injuries in the suicide bombing in Kabul. Maj. Luke Knittig, a military spokesman, said he could not disclose the nationalities of the soldiers. The attack came two days after another suicide bomber killed 12 people and wounded more than 40 outside Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry.

In the southern province of Helmand, clashes on Sunday left 10 people dead, including five civilians, said Ghulam Muhiddin, the governor’s spokesman.

The civilians were killed when their vehicle hit a freshly planted mine on a road usually used by NATO and Afghan security forces in Helmand’s Musa Qala district, Muhiddin said.

Suspected Taliban on a motorbike, meanwhile, killed two policemen in Gereshk district, he said. Separately, NATO-led troops killed three militants in Nawzad district.”


11 thoughts on “Bill Frist Wants to Bring the Taliban into the Afghan Government

  1. Posting the whole article’s a bit much (and more than a bit questionable…).

    I wonder how many right-wing heads are exploding tonight contemplating Frist’s and Martinez’s terrorist-appeasing statements, especially when compared to the condemnations the GOP has issued against Democrats for “appeasing” Iraqi citizens with the same statements.

    So to summarize: Democrats contemplating the entry of Iraqi insurgents into politics == terrorist sympathizers; Republicans contemplating the entry of Taliban (aka al Qaeda-harboring jihadists) into politics == ???

    (Sorry, I just can’t figure out how to complete that analogy.  Does not compute!)

  2. The one positive thing W has done since 9/11 was to go into Afghanistan and kick the Taliban out. But he and Rummy blew it by not sending in more troops (sound familiar) and now they want to reverse the only positive thing that came out of all of it. (And anyone who thinks that removing Saddam was positive – and he was a bastard, make no mistake – really ought to read the news some more.)

    1. This Administration has long been based on the soft bigotry of low expectations – can you expect anything less than allowing the Taliban back into the Afghani government while they’re still prosecuting an insurgent war against civilization itself?  Given that you probably can’t, doesn’t it stand to reason that sooner or later that’s what the Administration would come to?  I know that’s the ultimate cynic’s view, but I’ve learned a lot about the value of cynicism in evaluating this Administration’s actions…

  3.   Or so Shrub announced back in Sept., Oct. ’01 in response to 9/11.  Now they want to bring them in to the Afghan govt. 
      Before this is over, Frist and Hastert will be so desperate for friends, they’ll probably want to invite them in to join the House and Senate GOP leadership. 
      If you can’t beat the, ask them to join you.  At least Mullah Omar wouldn’t have tolerated Mark Foley’s misconduct with the House pages….. 

  4. Frist and the Republican administration are repulsive, but Frist is right – we can not win a guerrilla war in Afghanistan. 

    It is the highest irony that we say we wish for a more open, democratic government, while doing everything possible to ensure the anti-democratic parties get as much support as possible.

    Karzai’s political influence is dwindling and a call to the Taliban to join the political process would ruin him. Yet, what choice do we have? 

    We have allowed the Taliban to become strong again, allowed the poppy harvests to continue and allowed warlords in the country to gain more political power than Karzai. 

    I’m constantly amazed at America’s ignorance of foreign affairs.  This applies to the highest office in the land down to the average Joe on the street. 

    Frist is laying the rhetorical groundwork for his upcoming Presidential bid here and supplying the talking points for future policy.

    1. The Taliban is not the Iraqi insurgency.  They’re a relatively small band of extremists.  Furthermore, they are still far too closely tied to al Qaeda; they are not interested at this point in moderating enough to form a government.

      When we got “control” of Afghanistan, we deliberately limited our sphere of control to the capital region to deny al Qaeda and the Taliban an excess of opportunities to get us bogged down.  I actually agreed in principle with Bush on this strategy; how little did I know that it was only an excuse so that we had more troops available for Iraq…  The situation in Afghanistan now is not unlike that when the Soviets left it – warlords in diminishing control as experienced Taliban and other mujahadeen fighters slowly capture territory.  The difference is, the U.S. – with the right diplomatic efforts – can put most of the people who were fighting against the USSR on our side of the conflict this time out.

      Frist wouldn’t sound so moronic if he was also calling for a withdraw in Iraq; that he’s willing to sacrifice Afghanistan and keep fighting in Iraq shows once more just what a poor judge of military matters the Republicans have been on a regular basis.

      1. but I think it would be too little too late, as you referred to in your post. Even if security could be established in Kabul, we would need a significant troop buildup to influence the countryside.

        Is the international community willing to stand up for Afghanistan?  Donor nations are not contributing what they promised and, while I think NATO and the UN can help, unless we “win the hearts and minds” of the people outside of the capitol, diplomats can’t make much difference.

        I agree with your comments on the poor military decisions the Republicans have made.

    2. Frist may be right, but that does not mean that we should be happy with it. The administration screwed the pooch on this one, and if he is now going to say that the Taliban needs to be brought back into the fold then he needs to point out the real reasons why it should be so, namely that the administration screwed up.

      There is so much that we did wrong in that invasion, including the removal of troops to Iraq that to go back over it all would be a waste. Since we can not undo what has been done, we need to look at the facts. We need to reestablish ties with the Northern Alliance. We need to stop thinking that money will be the cure all and we need to focus on tribal leaders. The poppy harvest is a non-issue to me because that will never be stopped and trying to prevent it will alienate more people than it will bring to our side. The government is beyond corrupt and we also have this ridiculous idea that democracry will work there. I dont believe that it will at least not in the near future.

      If Frist is trying to set this up as a platform for his presidential bid that is beyond a stupid idea. Allowing the same people who allowed a safe haven for OBL, and it can be argued tacitly approved of 9/11 because of the safe harboring, is something he advocates it doesnt even need to spun for the people to get enraged against him about. It would be like arguing that we need to let Saddam back into power, although that is probably what it would take to help get Iraq back into shape.

      1. We did so many things wrong, I’m wondering if we can progress?  The poppies are an issue to me because of where the money goes (making warlords stronger).  The countryside is run by militias and I don’t know if the Northern Alliance would even want to get in bed with us again.  Now if an international presence were to bring them into the fold – I don’t know enough about the current state of the Alliance.

        Frist would be a moron for believing this could be a platform.  What am I saying, Frist is a moron.  I only said he’s posturing presidential rhetoric because I’m cynical when it comes to international affairs right now. I think that Frist believes Americans would buy the idea of a kinder, gentler Taliban, one we can work with, bring into a democratic process. 

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