U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and called for efforts to bring the Islamic militia and its supporters into the Afghan government.
The Tennessee Republican said he learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield.
"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."
Afghanistan is suffering its heaviest insurgent attacks since a U.S.-led military force toppled the Taliban in late 2001 for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Now, even in Afghanistan where Frist in currently visiting US troops in the region, he caught wind of the backlash from his statement and tried to mollify the crowd with this statement on his VOLPAC website. From Hot Air:
I’m currently overseas visiting our troops in Afghanistan, but I wanted to take a moment to address an Associated Press story titled, “Frist: Taliban Should Be in Afghan Gov’t.” The story badly distorts my remarks and takes them out of context.
First of all, let me make something clear: The Taliban is a murderous band of terrorists who’ve oppressed the people of Afghanistan with their hateful ideology long enough. America’s overthrow of the Taliban and support for responsible, democratic governance in Afghanistan is a great accomplishment that should not and will not be reversed.
Having discussed the situation with commanders on the ground, I believe that we cannot stabilize Afghanistan purely through military means. Our counter-insurgency strategy must win hearts and minds and persuade moderate Islamists potentially sympathetic to the Taliban to accept the legitimacy of the Afghan national government and democratic political processes.
National reconciliation is a necessary and an urgent priority … but America will never negotiate with terrorists or support their entry into Afghanistan’s government.
The right-wingers seem unimpressed.
Now, Frist is correct that national reconciliation is necessary to bring peace to the region, but that just isn't going to happen anytime soon. Especially now that the Taliban is flush with heroin money. They produced 98% of the poppy crop for the entire world this year and they are going to use that money to keep on fighting. Why did we let our enemy reap that kind of money through the drug trade? I don't know. We should have napalmed it to choke off some of their funding. Having not done so, hostilities will continue at increased levels in the near term.
I hope we don't compound the issue by letting them do the same thing next year.