Why is the administration engaging with active anti-American terrorists?

Barry Rubin Director, GLORIA Center
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Even The New York Times is shocked. Here’s how the story begins:

“Just a month after accusing Pakistan’s spy agency of secretly supporting the Haqqani terrorist network, which has mounted attacks on Americans, the Obama administration is now relying on the same intelligence service to help organize and kick-start reconciliation talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan.”

There are two problems here:

First, despite massive financial aid, Pakistan has proven to be unreliable in fighting terrorists or helping the United States capture them. It is also a major sponsor of terrorism. In Afghanistan, it has worked secretly with the Taliban and other violent Islamist groups.

So why is the United States making that country the centerpiece of its Afghanistan plans? Note the parallel to making the hostile Islamist Turkish regime the manager of its Syria policy. The administration is also coddling up to the Muslim Brotherhood. If it weren’t for the power of the pro-Israel sentiment in the United States, I bet the Obama administration would be making nice with Hamas and Hizballah as well.

Second, the administration is also ready to deal with the Taliban. Remember, the Taliban was an enabler of the September 11 attacks, and the Haqqani network is an al Qaida-affiliated group that is very active in terrorism against Americans, including a recent assault on the U.S. embassy in Pakistan and a suicide bomb attack that killed 10 Americans in Kabul.

As usual, the administration is employing double-talk to make this absurd policy sound reasonable. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls it “Fight, Talk, Build.” The United States will attack Haqqani while trying to get it to negotiate.

Aside from an ideology that portrays the United States as a minion of Satan (a serious barrier to becoming friends), the Haqqani and their Pakistani sponsors know that the United States is leaving Afghanistan anyway. So why not just out-wait the attacks? Moreover, the United States is not able to hit them hard enough to make a difference.

Or, as The New York Times puts it so well, Pakistan’s powerful intelligence chieftains “see little advantage in forcing those negotiations, because they see the insurgents as perhaps their best bet for maintaining influence in Afghanistan as the United States reduces its presence there.”

As senseless policies and failures proliferate, dissent grows inside the administration. A “senior American official” summarized the Pakistani position as “Cease-fire, Talk, Wait for the Americans to Leave.”

In sharp contrast to Iraq, Afghanistan is likely to collapse in bloodshed after the U.S. departs and a radical, anti-American and probably Islamist regime comes to power. That would be still another monument to the Obama administration policy of rewarding enemies and punishing friends.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal at Gloria-Center.org. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, will be published by Yale University Press in January.