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Let's talk to the Taliban, says Guttenberg

DPA/The Local · 20 Dec 2009, 10:43

Published: 20 Dec 2009 10:43 GMT+01:00

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In an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Guttenberg said he supported keeping open channels of communication with moderate tribes and communities in the war-torn country, as long as it didn’t mean backing oneself into corner.

While keeping open the possibility of a troop boost after the international Afghanistan summit scheduled for January, Guttenberg stressed Germany would not be giving the United States or NATO a blank cheque.

On the matter of dialogue with the Taliban, Guttenberg said it was important to distinguish diehard global insurgents from Taliban fighters who did not pose a threat to the West.

“Not every insurgent is a direct threat to Western society,” he said. “There is a difference between groups who have the goal of fighting our culture out of a radical rejection of the West and those for example who see culture as connected to the place where you live.”

Cutting off all communication was at this stage of the conflict not a wise approach, though he stressed that “criteria had to apply” in talking to the Taliban.

Guttenberg ruled out unconditionally boosting Germany’s troop levels in Afghanistan as per the wishes of US President Barack Obama.

“I would be careful about the phrase: ‘You have to follow Obama.’ Our standard ought to be that we aim for a strategy that incorporates our own experience.”

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“The first logical step for a new strategic approach is not to say: ‘We take more soldiers and then follow the strategy.' We put together the strategy now and then from that follows how many soldiers and civil forces we need. It’s still open as to whether we need more soldiers or will make do with the existing framework.”

Guttenberg fired off an attack on Social Democrats chairman Sigmar Gabriel’s announcement on Saturday that his party would not support a troop boost, describing it as “commitment ahead of strategy.”

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:06 December 20, 2009 by abemarch
I agree with Guttenberg's assessment. Talking to the Taliban will lead to greater understanding on both sides. We have learned that for every action there is a reaction. Taking positive peaceful action is preferable to force.
11:51 December 20, 2009 by LancashireLad
At the very least, trying to find out what they want, and what they have a problem with is a step froward. It will also show us if they even want to talk.
13:31 December 20, 2009 by Frenemy
"What they have a problem with"??!!

Just open the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to any random page and you will find something they have a problem with!!
14:23 December 20, 2009 by Wabit
Frenemy: You are quite right in your statement and I agree fully!

Let us not forget that the two civilian Fuel Tanker Drivers were Beheaded!!!!!!

In other words for those who do not understand... Heads cut off.... ok

Now then,what were we saying to these Taliban Gentlemen???

Oh yes I remember, something about 'Peaceful' awwww how sweet :-)
20:15 December 20, 2009 by wenddiver
They are mass murders, who run around beheading peopl, throwing acid in the face of school girls, stoning women and terrorizing their fellow citizens. I really don't care what they want.

These are the kind of idiots who have de-balled (like be-heading, but lower) the German Military, right when the world expects it to contribute to the fight for the Peace & Freedom of the world.

I feel sorry for the German Soldiers, who have to serve such a pack of indecisive idiots as the current government. When somebody beheads two civilians and you go after them, there is no such thing as excessive force.
21:12 December 20, 2009 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Ah, there we go. More of this stupidity about appealing to the "moderate" enemy. How difficult is it to understand that these people hate our way of life? Yes, they're willing to talk now - after the west has been squeezing the life out of them for 8 years. Do you really think they would respond in kind of the roles were reversed? Non-sense. The goals of the Taliban are the same as that of Al-Queda; a pan-global Islamic Caliphate, as per their own admission. There is no such thing as negotiation with absolutists like that. Additionally, if we were to go in with this, we would be admitting that it's "OK" to trample on human freedom if it's part of your degenerate "culture". Absolute stupidity.
02:45 December 21, 2009 by Thames
The biggest problem with boosting German or any troop levels is that Obama has no clue as to what he is doing. They will be wasted. Whether you are for or against the war, what is clear is the need for decisive leadership. Either go all out to win or leave. This indecision shows weakness and lack of vision.

Many brave soldiers and inocent civilians are dying and none of these so called leaders have a real plan.
06:33 December 21, 2009 by ebermannstadt
Germany has not only forgotten how to fight a war, but apparently also how to win one. Yes there are basically good people caught up in the Taliban. That's war, get over it and get on with it. You'll not win until the Taliban is eliminated, I.e. all key figures are dead and it's not a problem limited to Afganistan, but a growing global one. So there's no end to this war. We'll still be fighting it in 50 years time.
06:38 December 21, 2009 by Frenemy

Although I agree with you, I think its important to point out that a lack of action is not necessarily connotative of a "lack of vision". In fact, "doing nothing" could very well be part of the strategic "plan"...
09:41 December 21, 2009 by lordkorner
The war against the Taliban cannot and will not be won in the way that wars were fought and won in the past. It doesn't matter how powerful the U.S is,how great its military capabilities are,the simple fact of the matter is that Afghan Taliban or Al-Queda soldiers do not mind dying in battle,neither will public opinion in this part of the world be an issue of whether this war is worth fighting or not. The American Moms and Pops will only go so far down the Body bag avenue,then after they discover that its really a Dead end, they will want to turn around and go home. That will be the un-doing of the U.S in Afghanistan and that is why they will not win. After over 30 years in Northern Ireland the Brits finally had to talk to the Provos, Talk will always be part of the process in any war. So please Gun -Ho Cowboys,its not the amount of weapons one has its its army that dictates who will win but the amount of soldiers one is willing to loose. How many American Sons and Daughters are you willing to see come back in Body bags,that is the real strength of your army.
12:56 December 21, 2009 by mixxim
Politicians will end up talking to the devil. Has this man no scruples? I suspect he would be one of those happy to agree with Hitler if he could have a place of influence....
19:13 December 21, 2009 by Frenemy
Actually, until now I thought zGuttenberg was a pretty decent guy. I think domestic politics are starting to get to him.

@lordkorner: you're right, in the sense that casualty tolerance (public opinion trajectory) determines HOW LONG a country can stay in "war-mode". But there is another factor that plays a decisive role in the outcome of the war: the public's ability to stomach extreme violence being committed on its behalf (for example, we could end this thing tomorrow, using 2 or 3 strategic [+megaton] nukes to turn the whole place into a glass parking lot, but the Western public would never condone that)
21:14 December 21, 2009 by Henckel
@ frenemy: All politics are local. That's an American political proverb, but it seems especially true today in Germany concerning zu Guttenberg and the Afghan War.
22:29 December 21, 2009 by Frenemy
Unfortunately, that's absolutely correct. And its particularly problematic when the "local" electorate is hellbent on committing cultural Seppuku in the name of political-correctness and/or in order to assuage their (falsely) guilt-ridden consciences!
00:42 December 22, 2009 by cordoba.ali
Either you people in this forum are capitalist brats or are that ignorant! I always thought Germans were clever people but with the comments I read here, I now believe the Germans lost WW2 due to their stupidity!

Let me put it this way in your crooked neanderthal heads: If the Taliban were to occupy Germany, what would you white savages do? Being neanderthal's you would have eaten them yes you cannibals.

The Afghan Taliban are killing your people in their country because you are there illegally, occupying and bullying their people. Of course, that's what is to be done with the German savages in Afghanistan!
01:33 December 22, 2009 by Frenemy

What would we "white savages" do??!!!

My brown/olive-colored German hands lie virtually paralyzed upon my keyboard.

I don't even know what to say to that....except: I thought you Moors were done with your attempts at European domination?! haha ;-)
03:15 December 22, 2009 by CalBill
Must agree with wenddiver -- anyone who disagrees with that position is delusional. The Taliban are subhuman as is their ideology.
14:39 December 22, 2009 by Stephen Gash
Taliban, Taliban - The Muslim version of the Ku Klux Klan
16:20 December 22, 2009 by lordkorner
Mixxim, there's no such thing as the Devil,its only God when he's drunk.
06:16 December 23, 2009 by Thames

While one can make a convincing argument that German troops do not belong in Afghanistan you must remember that Germany is subservient to US desires.

When it comes to foreign affairs Germany dances to the US tune.

So don't be too hard on them. They only do what their masters in Washington tell them to do.
09:10 December 23, 2009 by airborne1092

So the Taliban can tell you how they want you to live, and how they'll cane you, force your women to wear a burkah after they perform the clitorectomies and send your sons to the local Madrasah; Or if you don't comply, how they'll simply saw your head off in the name of Allah for being an Infidel because you refuse to convert?

Sure, let them talk...
14:12 December 23, 2009 by Frenemy
"When it comes to foreign affairs Germany dances to the US tune. So don't be too hard on them. They only do what their masters in Washington tell them to do. "

@Thames: lol, It really does SEEM that way, doesn't it? ;-)
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