Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The unseen downside of Pakistan’s recent crackdown on the Taliban?

Hillary Clinton hails "a new day" in U.S. relations with Pakistan. And the former CIA station chief in Islamabad says it is time to talk turkey with the Taliban. Not gonna happen, responds Thomas Ruttig, who was the UN’s man in Afghanistan during the last years of Taliban rule, In the new issue of West ...

MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images
MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images
MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton hails "a new day" in U.S. relations with Pakistan. And the former CIA station chief in Islamabad says it is time to talk turkey with the Taliban.

Not gonna happen, responds Thomas Ruttig, who was the UN's man in Afghanistan during the last years of Taliban rule, In the new issue of West Point's CTC Sentinel, he  argues that the recent arrests of Taliban leaders in Pakistan actually were a way of shutting down talks:

For Afghanistan, however, the arrests have at least temporarily closed the window of opportunity for direct talks with the Afghan Taliban leadership. As a result, the fighting in Afghanistan will continue and President Karzai's peace jirga announced for mid-spring may run aground before it even begins.

Hillary Clinton hails "a new day" in U.S. relations with Pakistan. And the former CIA station chief in Islamabad says it is time to talk turkey with the Taliban.

Not gonna happen, responds Thomas Ruttig, who was the UN’s man in Afghanistan during the last years of Taliban rule, In the new issue of West Point’s CTC Sentinel, he  argues that the recent arrests of Taliban leaders in Pakistan actually were a way of shutting down talks:

For Afghanistan, however, the arrests have at least temporarily closed the window of opportunity for direct talks with the Afghan Taliban leadership. As a result, the fighting in Afghanistan will continue and President Karzai’s peace jirga announced for mid-spring may run aground before it even begins.

Those Taliban still on the prowl, he notes, are younger and more radical than the old guys recently rounded up. I heard the Ex Man say something similar to a bunch of congressmen last night.

I am very impressed with the Sentinel, which does a solid job of exploring the nooks and crannies of terrorism every month. It is much more interesting than most government-sponsored publications. If I ever get my wish to shut down West Point as an undergraduate institution and replace it with a Sandhurst-like post-graduate structure, I hope they keep publishing the Sentinel.

(HT to Attackerman for the Grenier article)

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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