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Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. We have. We've blunted the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.
It is very clear that the people in Afghanistan do not want the Taliban back.
Some of the generals are saying, 'We're making progress. We are clearing an area.' But you really don't defeat the Taliban by clearing an area. They move.
We all hoped in 2001 that we could put in place an Afghan government under President Karzai that would be able to control the country, make sure al-Qaeda didn't come back, and make sure the Taliban wasn't resurging. It didn't work out.
If we're so cruel to minorities, why do they keep coming here? Why aren't they sneaking across the Mexican border to make their way to the Taliban?
I think every religious person should have a deep sense of respect for other people's religious documents and religious symbols just as we were deeply opposed to the Taliban destroying the two historic buddhas which they blew up. So I think we ought to all oppose burning the Koran.
When you say things like, 'We have to wipe out the Taliban,' what does that mean? The Taliban is not a fixed number of people. The Taliban is an ideology that has sprung out of a history that, you know, America created anyway.
Hurtling the Pentagon into an unprecedented budgetary meltdown is horrifically irresponsible. Obama doesn't care. This is war - not against the Taliban, but war against the GOP. He has Republicans on the ropes, and that's a victory he savors and desires - unlike Afghanistan, where he seems only to want to turn tail.
I say to the Taliban: surrender the terrorists; or surrender power. It's your choice.
I don't think you can rely on Iran. I don't think you can rely on other radicals like the Taliban. They dispatched Al Qaida to bomb New York and Washington. What were they thinking? Were they that stupid? They weren't stupid. There is an irrationality there, and there is madness in this method.
But here too it should be noted that the President's approach was to first ask the repressive and brutal Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden to us, and only after that government refused to do that did we invade.
Winning in Afghanistan is having a country that is stable enough to ensure that there is no safe haven for Al Qaida or for a militant Taliban that welcomes Al Qaida. That's really the measure of success for the United States.
I mean, the Taliban, my view is that they have been weakened. We have not seen them able to conduct any kind of organized attack to regain any territory that they've lost. We've seen levels of violence going down.
The Taliban is resilient.
I mean, the Taliban, my view is that they have been weakened.
Women and children were slaughtered by the Taliban. You are going to sit down and negotiate with these folks? They never lived up to an agreement. The Pakistanis tried in '08, the Russians tried it when they were there. George Bush tried it in '05. It has never worked.
If you're an Afghan village leader in a small town down around Kandahar somewhere, and you know that the footprint is getting smaller for your security, and the Taliban saying don't forget, I'm going to be back real soon, who is your loyalty going to go through?
Well, the reports are correct that we're conducting very robust military operations on the Afghan side of the border in areas where we think al-Qaida is operating and Taliban remnants are.
Cults, or related social movements such as the Taliban in Afghanistan, result in massive military expenses.
Just in relation to women, it's not that huge an imaginative leap to see the connection between the Taliban and the Catholic Church.
As far as Iraq, the important thing is that the Taliban is gone in Afghanistan, three-quarters of the al-Qaida leadership is either dead or in jail, and we now have Saudi Arabia working with us, Pakistan working with us.
You know, if I were an - if I were a Taliban, I'd say, 'What did al-Qaida ever do for me except get me kicked out of Afghanistan?'
Robert M. Gates
People in Afghanistan want peace, including the Taliban. They're also people like we all are. They have families, they have relatives, they have children, they are suffering a tough time.
I don't think the Taliban will ever come back to take Afghanistan, no.
The young boys I speak with say to me: Why would I want to live in this world - where they rely on charity, dry pieces of bread and water, where they are subjected to harsh treatment, when they can be free and be the envy of their colleagues in the afterlife. They are only too eager to sign on the dotted line and join the ranks of the Taliban.
Thousands of civilians have lost their lives to terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, and thousands more will - because, unlike the Pakistani government, which has no coherent policy to deal with the radicals, the Taliban have one to deal with Pakistan and its citizens.
Fighting the Taliban and the various radical organizations on the front lines is like adding a Band-Aid to a cut, it may stop the bleeding but unless you clean it with antiseptic, the germs stay and multiply.
I went to Afghanistan in '96 to write about terrorist training camps south of Jalalabad and Tora Bora, in the mountains. I was there right before the Taliban took over, literally a few weeks before they took Kabul. The frontline wasn't terribly active, but it was definitely there. And they swept into power.
Human-rights advocates, for example, claim that the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners is of a piece with President Bush's 2002 decision to deny al Qaeda and Taliban fighters the legal status of prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.
While Taliban fighters had an initial claim to protection under the conventions, they lost POW status by failing to obey the standards of conduct for legal combatants: wearing uniforms, a responsible command structure, and obeying the laws of war.
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