Friday, January 29, 2010

Bribing the Taliban to stop: has it really come to this?

News flash from Roubini Global Economics:

New Afghan Plan: Financial Incentives to Give up Arms?
  • At the London Conference on Afghanistan co-hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, it was decided that a fund would be set up to provide employment and housing to Taliban fighters that give up the fight. Conference participants are expected to pledge about US$500 million for the fund.
We're gonna bribe them so they stop fighting?

Um, er... I'm not sure what to say.  It would be great if it works.  But I think this proposal reflects a serious misunderstanding of who the Taliban fighters are.  Part of their zeal in this battle is their utter disdain for the West and its materialist/capitalist ways.  The notion that cash will make them lay down their weapons seems absurd.  It will only serve to reinforce their notion that Westerners worship money and are willing to abandon any cause to acquire more money.  It's like trying to make amends with your vegetarian wife by inviting her to dinner at Al's Steakhouse. 

Besides, don't you think that anybody that accepts this offer will be considered a traitor in the eyes of the Taliban?  How long do you think traitors will survive?  I think the odds are pretty good that they would be killed and subsequently blown up (just to be doubly sure).

This plan is unfortunately doomed to fail.  The Taliban will probably spit on the letter of offer.