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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Taliban Leaders Admit ‘Mea Culpa,’ Get Serious About Peace Talks

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that U.S. and Afghan officials are in three-way negotiations with the Taliban. President Hamid Karzai, who had been left out of recent talks, said he thinks the Taliban is definitely interested in a peace settlement.

Afghanistan expert Michael Semple agrees that the Taliban is ready to talk peace.

Taliban Admits ‘Serious Mistakes’

Semple tells Here & Now‘s Robin Young that the Taliban has admitted to him that they made “serious mistakes” when they were in power — among them giving succor to al-Qaida and enforcing social policies that alienated many Afghans.

Semple was a U.N. officer in Afghanistan in the early ’90s when the Taliban came to power, and he worked closely with Taliban leaders before the attacks of 9/11.

He says the same leaders still head the Taliban and over the last several years, they have not only come to fully understand their policy mistakes, they’ve analyzed those mistakes to make sure they don’t repeat them if they come back to power.

A real peace process is now under way in the country, Semple says, but before there can be any serious progress in the talks, there are still a number of unresolved issues with how the two sides can talk to each other.


  • Michael Semple, Afghanistan expert and fellow at The Carr Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Duttermohlen

    Afghanistan is an independent country with it’s own history and culture. If the goal of the invasion was to change the culture and protect the rights of women, would we have spent the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives to invade and occupy?  If the answer to that question is no, why should we be willing to continue to occupy now?

  • Nina from San Diego

    If they wanted to have peace talks with Taliban, why didn’t they do it from the beginning of the time of going into Afghanistan?  We have could have saved many lives and used the all the money to improve Afghan’s lives. 

  • Duffy Johnson

    Of course we should talk to them.  We should talk to Iran, too.  And North Korea, and Burma, and China, and everyone, no matter how bad they are, because it’s better than NOT talking.

  • Anonymous

    In the 60′s,  people smarter than I used to carry signs that said, “Come, let us reason together.”    It may be the best advice ever given.  What is the alternative – might makes right?  annhilation? slavery? oligarchy?  The prophet Isaiah was the MLK of his day. 
    Pro-Soviet forces in Afghanistan staged a coup in 1978.  Then the Soviets invaded in 1979 to back an even more pro-Soviet regime.  Anti-Soviet rebels achieved victory in 1992.  By then 1 million Afghans had been killed and 6 million had fled the country.   The chaos continued and in 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered cruise missile strikes on Kabul.  In 1999, when Afghanistan refused to turn Bin Laden over to the US for prosecution, the UN imposed sanctions, even though the country was already facing severe famine. 
    In light of all this suffering, Robin’s focus on women’s rights seems a bit misplaced.     All Afghans, male and female, need adequate food, shelter, security, and, yes, more access to education.    Perhaps more than anything else, they need an empiricist to reason with them.

  • Snurfette04

    Robin Young asked Michael Semple a few good questions, unfortunately, he didn’t answer them – he answered with his own agenda.  I felt the word “suppressed” which Robin used to describe how women were treated under Taliban rule grossly understated the torture, rape, starvation, and complete denial of human rights that actually took place.  Maybe peace talks are an option, but let’s not pretend that the Taliban has dropped its adherence to its core religious beliefs which was intimated by the discussion that they have realized their mistakes.

  • Linz at Reno

    Our taxes pay for a very big war machine, so as a result we have become the world’s police nation post WW-ll. Afaganistan has just been a recent stop in our continum of business. Large multinational corporations profit with the US war machine at work. When will we stop sacrificing our service men and women for their profits? Afaganistan really should have been only a special ops event to get Bin Laden and his key operatives if this nation was indeed a moral nation we would fight much less. There was no reason to drag an entire country into war, because of a few terrorist who needed to be dealt with directly. Our obligation to change other cultures to embrace human rights is a front war profit and propaganda at its best.

  • Fatheromen

    solving issues before starting a war woudve been much better now its a beauty of the hindsight isnt it, ironic now of all the people you want to resolve the conflict .(americans).” lets pack up boys we r going some where else” 

  • wajdan khattak

     i think ther is a possibilty that these talks would backfire pakistan and afghanistan as they can give way to a more powerfull and motivated extremist regime in afghanistan with a point of view that even the largest army in the world had failed at war with them .taliban coming to power politicaly is not a good idea but if the americans had concentrated more on the rebuilding and reinforcement of all the victims wouldve actualy won the hearts and minds of the people, besides its a shame for the americans that indians did a better job in winning the hearts and minds of the people by actualy doing some relief work for the development of afghanistan.

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