The Afghan government floated a new plan “offering jobs, security, education and other social benefits to Taliban followers who defect” in the hope of quelling, if not crippling, the Taliban-Islamist resurgence seeking to take over the country. The Islamist response? A massive, coordinated suicide attack on the presidential palace, ministry of justice and central bank in Kabul.
It was meant to deliver a message — which the Taliban’s spokesman put into words afterward: “We are ready to fight, and we have the strength to fight, and nobody from the Taliban side is ready to make any kind of deal.”
Horrific scarcely begins to describe the attack, but there was ample reason to expect the baksheesh (bribes) to elicit that kind of response from the Islamists. There are many parallels you could draw, but take just one: the current U.S. approach toward Iran.
The Afghan government — acting with the endorsement of Washington — reached out to the enemy forces with an appeasing deal. That’s exactly what Washington has tried in its so-called outreach to Iran. Result: the offer of baksheesh to Islamists in Afghanistan only energized them, in part because they (justifiably) interpret it as a sign of arrant weakness. Likewise, a year into Obama’s effort to cozy up with Tehran, we’ve seen that regime grow more confident.
Think about what doctors would do if faced with a similar situation. Suppose a widely prescribed treatment routinely made patients sicker; that treatment would, at minimum, be halted, objectively studied, and, if the data warranted it, repudiated. That’s the kind of scientific mindset that our political and intellectual leaders ought to bring to bear on the policy of appeasement.