The best of both worlds for the Taliban

Yesterday I wondered if Democrat Rep. Jacki Speier of California had gone off the deep end by musing that the Taliban aren’t really terrorists, but rather “part of the fabric of Afghanistan.”  It turns out she was basically mangling the new talking points from the Obama Administration, which is going all-in for the reinvention of the Taliban butchers as legitimate battlefield opponents.  CNN reports on Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s testimony before Congress today:

Bergdahl was held by the Haqqani network, a Taliban wing designated a terrorist group in 2012.

However, Hagel noted Bergdahl was a war captive, not a hostage, and that the negotiations to free him involved the broader Taliban rather than the Haqqani network itself.

“We didn’t negotiate with Haqqani,” Hagel said, adding that Bergdahl was moved around during his five years of captivity while conceding the terrorist network did hold him at times.

Hagel emphasized the negotiations for Bergdahl’s release were conducted through the Qatari government, which dealt with the Taliban.

“It was fully consistent with our long-standing policy not to offer concessions to hostage takers,” Hagel said. “The Taliban is our enemy, and we are engaged in an armed conflict with them.”

See, the Taliban aren’t terrorists – they just hire terrorists to hold their prisoners hostage until they ripen into “prisoners of war.”

This is the best of both worlds for the Taliban.  They’re being legitimized, aggressively, by the Obama Administration, after years of merciless savagery.  They used goddamn children as suicide bombers, but now they’re a noble “battlefield enemy we’re engaged in armed conflict with,” entitled to all the status and consideration they would have received by using legal tactics and meeting us in open battle.  Which, of course, would have resulted in their extermination.  

Likewise, they got to treat Bowe Bergdahl as a hostage in the most criminal and despicable sense – we don’t know for sure if a cash ransom was paid, but we know for a fact that it was seriously discussed, and the Administration claims they couldn’t inform Congress about the deal for Bergdahl’s release because his captors threatened to kill him unless Team Obama kept quiet.  But now they get treated like a legitimate force engaged in an honorable transfer of prisoners.  

The Administration has even taken to describing this exchange of prisoners as the normal procedure conducted after a war is over… but the Taliban doesn’t think the war is over.  What’s the right word for a conflict in which only one side says it’s finished fighting?

We’ve talked about the dangerous precedent set by paying off kidnappers, as those fine upstanding non-terrorists in the Taliban openly say they can’t wait to grab more Americans and cut more lucrative deals with Barack Obama.  But this might be an even more dangerous and long-lasting precedent: there is no reason for any sinister force in the world to conduct itself as lawful combatants, because there is no real penalty for fighting as dirty as you want.


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