Victory in Afghanistan Impossible Without Calling Taliban Terrorists

By Bridget Johnson, Originally published in the New York Observer

Policymakers need a refresher course on Afghanistan: Terrorists make their plans independently. They don’t follow the timetable of on-the-stump drawdown promises or primetime addresses by politicians. They don’t lay down the arms they feel Allah orders them to brandish to sit at a negotiating table with disbelievers or perceived puppet Muslim rulers. And they definitely aren’t just an armed insurgency as they blow up families.

Yet, while President Obama attributes his decision to keep steady troop levels in Afghanistan to “the realities of the world as it is,” he refuses to acknowledge that the Taliban are terrorists.

This, after all, would be admitting that the administration has made deals with terrorists, as evidenced by the swap of five Taliban commanders for Bowe Bergdahl in 2014—the year by which Obama pledged to leave Afghanistan.

“The Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in January 2015.

The administration has yearned for Afghanistan to be wrapped up in a neat negotiations bow before Obama leaves office; and even after the latest bloody terrorist attacks, the White House ends up calling for a peace deal. Imagine the outcry if the administration called for Bangladesh to strike a deal with ISIS on a Sharia state after the Dhaka café attack.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fond of noting about Iran, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then what is it? …It’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.”

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