With Talks, US Looks to Split Taliban

Experts push for controversial negotiations
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 8, 2009 11:04 AM CDT
US soldiers inspect the site of an explosion outside the main US military base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, March 4, 2009.    (AP Photo / Rafiq Maqbool)
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(Newser) – The idea of negotiating with the Taliban may seem absurd to many Americans—but experts are increasingly encouraging the Obama administration to talk with some of the group’s low-ranking members, writes Helene Cooper in the New York Times. Such a strategy could help divide the Taliban by targeting insurgents whose focus isn’t on battling the US. Gen. David Petraeus has said addressing these “reconcilables” could be a key strategy.

Some Taliban officials, for example, are more concerned about foreigners trespassing in their region than with any particular grudge against the US, a NATO official said. “As long as we’ve adopted a position that all are our enemies, we could be missing an opportunity to exploit” divisions among the insurgents, said an Afghanistan expert. But we can’t depend only on negotiation, says another analyst: “You fight, you talk, you fight, you talk.”
(Read more Taliban stories.)