Bribing the Taliban just won’t work writes Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzai in Newsweek.
To hear some US official talk, you’d think the Afghan war was all but over. They have big hopes the impending surge of 30,000 extra US troops [not forgetting,I stress, that nearly 60 thousand US soldiers were killed in Vietnam and further 60, 000 returned soldiers suffered from mental ill-health and committed suicide.], and believe that as many as 70% of Afghan fighters are only doing it for the money and can therefore be peeled away from the die-hards with a small bribe. It all sounds great – until you talk to insurgents. Taliban fighters insist that the money is irrelevant; they are out to avenge the death of their brothers and kinsmen at the hands of coalition troops.
Nearly all of them are ethnic Pashtuns who adhere to the age=old code of Pashtunwali, which enjoins “eye for an eye revenge”. To take bribes or enter into negotiations with the West would, as one foot soldier put it, be to ‘dishonour the sacrifices of his slain relatives. Even Taliban who are sick of bloodshed loath to defect, because they know they will never be able to return to their home village. Those who have tried have been murdered. Defectors can be seen roaming Kabul & elsewhere living hand-to-mouth without job prospects. and regretting the day they gave up the fight.
Seen in this light US hopes to buy off the Taliban are much so much pie in the sky.