On Tuesday US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke was in Islamabad complaining that Washington knows almost nothing about the Taliban. He then went on to explain that the Taliban consists of a hard core supported by a large lumpen mass that is not very religious and which can be separated from the real nasties by astute diplomacy and other incentives. This theory on the nature of the Taliban has become a mantra from the Obamaites ever since Joe Biden came out with it back in January, based on God-knows-what. The approach also assumes that the US is capable of practicing astute diplomacy, something that has not been evident since 1992.
That Holbrooke would complain that we know nothing about a group while at the same time describing tactics to be used to weaken it is the kind of hubris that one might have expected from Condi Rice or Dick Cheney. It also reminds me of similar statements made during Vietnam and, more recently, relating to Iraq, where nearly every prediction turned out to be sheer fiction. I guess the law of averages suggests that even a Bill Kristol will be right some of the time and our leaders must think that they will eventually roll a seven or an eleven in the crap shoot that typifies American foreign policy. Nevertheless, I have to wonder if this is going to be another case of wandering around in the dark until sheer exhaustion compels us to pick up our remaining marbles and go home.