Ambassador Ryan Crocker is a no-nonsense guy. In an interview with the WSJ today, the new ambassador to Afghanistan said:
“The Taliban needs to feel more pain before you get to a real readiness to reconcile.”
Ambassador Crocker doesn’t put much faith in the current negotiations between US forces, Kabul, and the Taliban. Of Mullah Omar’s recent declaration that talks might be on the horizon, Crocker said,
“Mullah Omar’s Eid message, read as positive in some quarters, did not infuse me with any optimism…He acknowledged the talks but said they are purely tactical. He did not indicate a readiness to make any concessions at all on the side of the Taliban…[it was] the kind of statement that one would expect from a governmental leader in waiting. I think he’s going to be disappointed.”
In my experience, Ryan Crocker is one of the smartest ambassadors we’ve got. This looks like a levelheaded description of a tough situation. As the article makes clear, the NATO mission has made some progress and the Taliban is feeling the pressure, but the magic victory rabbit isn’t about to pop out of the hat.The Mead prescription: hold the course, and think hard about the Pakistan problem. We will not get out of Afghanistan any faster or more cheaply if we are constantly begging and pleading with everyone to let us out, or complaining about how much we hate war and how expensive and/or how hopeless it is. The President is managing this war in a responsible and thoughtful way; he and the troops deserve our continued support.