The Daily Mail reported yesterday,
'The Taliban are not an enemy of the U.S. and should not be talked about in such terms, Joe Biden has claimed.The vice-president said the militant Islamist group only represents an inherent threat if it allows Al-Qaeda to strike at the U.S.In an interview with Newsweek, Mr Biden warned against labelling the Taliban as an enemy.He said: 'That's critical. There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests.'Mr Biden's comments come as senior U.S. officials prepare to negotiate a peace deal with Taliban militants.Even after a surge in U.S. troops in Afghanistan has pushed the Taliban out of much of their southern stronghold, the group's intentions regarding peace talks remain unclear.
What is unclear is what US interests are. The enemy is not the enemy is it does not threaten US interests. This is a different position from the one where the Taliban are eternally evil and that defeating them is a victory for women's rights and liberal democracy.
Peace talk with the Taliban are necessary as they threaten the route through which the TAPI Pipeline is scheduled to run by 2016.
It is no coincidence that as Biden effectively admitted whilst there are no permanent enemies only permanent interests, high ranking members of the US military started to suggest they will be there beyond 2014, the 'official' withdrawal date.
In an interview with The New York Times, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan General John R. Allen avoided stating how many troops would be left in the country after 2014 nor even exactly what their function would be. The New York Times reported,
...negotiations with the government of President Hamid Karzai on a strategic partnership agreement would “almost certainly” include “a discussion with Afghanistan of what a post-2014 force will look like.”Mr. Karzai had, “in fact, just the other day talked about his desire to have conversations with the U.S. about a post-2014 force,” the general said. “We would probably see some number of advisers, trainers, intelligence specialists here for some period of time beyond 2014.”
Could their function, indeed the whole point now of operations in Afghanistan, be primarily to train a security force capable of guarding the TAPI pipeline against terror attacks ? What interests are being served by them being there ? Were these the only permanent interests that the US had been there for all along ?