Forget American Whines, It Would Be Irresponsible of Russia Not to Have Contact With the Taliban

Americans unleash chaos from the other side of the ocean, but Russia has to live with it

Given the record of American occupations it may very well come to where peace with the Taliban is preferable to further empowering ISIS

The basic rule of geopolitics is that everything American interventionists touch turns into an umitigated disaster.

Take Iraq for example where the problem for Americans has gone from being Saddam Hussein to being a Sunni insurgency to being ISIS -- each less desirable for the US than the other.

So Iraq used to be run by a clean-shaven strongman but the US did not like that and deposed him.

As soon as it did that however it found itself facing a scary Sunni Islamist insurgency which it liked even less and tried hard to recreate Saddam Hussein in the body of hand-picked PM Ayad Allawi. It didn't work.

However instead of reconciling itself with such a movement the US kept pounding away at it allowing ISIS to, after a brief Syria detour, to capitalize on the feeling of Sunni alienation and disenfranchisement.

So instead of sectarian but largely conservative underground resistance of which 'l-Qaeda in Iraq was only a tiny and often detested part it got an actual territorial state run by the al-Qaeda in Iraq. Great job USA!

Of course America is thousands of miles from Iraq so it's not like there was any price to pay. There are those, however, who are closer and must live with the fallout US unleashes.

America's Afghanistan occupation was longer but smaller so the situation there isn't quite as bad but it's not much better either. The US-installed Afghan government seems helpless to stop the Taliban from taking more territory and now there are even groups which swear allegiance to ISIS running around which would have been unimaginable just years ago.

Nothing is inevitable but if US keeps doubling down there instead of accepting the reality it can't have a perfect outcome it's perfectly possible ISIS which is the most radical alternative against it will become stronger and stronger -- and it is Afghanistan's neighbors which will have to live with that reality not the US.

US is nowadays accusing Moscow of "legitimizing" the Taliban by talking to them and acknowledging correctly that they're ISIS' competitor and very often -- a fierce battlefield enemy.

Given the record of American occupations I don't see what choice Russians have. It is entirely possible that those Taliban links will one day become invaluable to help stop the spread of ISIS in that part of the world, which is why it would be irresponsible of Russia not to maintain them.

As for American tears consider this:

1. Russia opposed the Taliban through the entire 1990s when they were ignored by the US and backed (and recognized) by Americans' good allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

2. Russia helped enable the 2001 US march into Afghanistan to depose the Taliban by opening Central Asia to US bases. (Something it would latter come to regret as Bush attempted to use the newfound presence to increase American clout over former Soviet "Stans".)

3. Russia kept on providing inexpensive material aid to the US-installed government throughout the American occupation and continues to do so. (Not even the Americans are accusing Moscow of providing such aid to the Taliban)

4. American are so desperate to talk to the Taliban themselves that in 2010 they showered millions of dollars in "goodwill payments" on a "Taliban leader" who turned out to be a local con artist with zero influence with the movement.

There is simply no doubt that Russia ideally would like to see the Taliban marginalized and defeated. But if Americans are not up to the task and are instead on the path to empower either the Taliban or ISIS, or both, then what choice does Russia have but keep communication channels to the Taliban open in case they turn out to be the only thing that can stop ISIS?

Moscow diplomats have a responsibility to the Russian people that transcends their responsibility to embarrassed US generals panicking that Russian stance is helping to reveal the scale of their failure in their 15-year long occupation of Afghanistn.

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