As Scott discusses in the post immediately below, the Obama administration today claimed that the Taliban is an “armed insurrection” — you know, kind of like George Washington’s Continental Army — not a terrorist group. It is therefore materially different, spokesperson Eric Schultz argued, from ISIS. Thus, it is okay for the U.S. to swap prisoners with the Taliban (see Bergdahl, Bowe), but not okay to make concessions to ISIS in exchange for prisoners.
I suppose we should count ourselves lucky that Schultz didn’t call the Taliban — which routinely butchers innocent civilians through car bombs and the like — “agrarian reformers.”
The administration’s characterization of the Taliban is more than just an attempt to wriggle out of the moral difficulty inherent in the Bergdahl swap. It reveals, I think, the administration’s true view of the Taliban — as, for that matter, the swap did.
As I wrote at the time of the swap, Obama wants to make deals with the Taliban. It’s probably no stretch to say that, for him, the Taliban is to Afghanistan what Iran is to much of the Middle East — a force on the rise with which he hopes to make a grand bargain that will end war and bring stability.
Obama himself has more than hinted at this. In touting the Bergdahl deal, Obama expressed his hope that it would “open the door for broader discussions. . .about the future of [Afghanistan] by building confidence” with the Taliban.
Obama can’t very well gain the confidence of the Taliban if he describes the outfit as “terrorist” and compares it to ISIS. Hence, his spokesman’s valiant defense of the butchers who facilitated 9/11.
When Obama’s spokesman calls the Taliban an “armed insurrection” — thereby attempting to confer legitimacy on this outfit — what he really means is “peace partner.”
Scott is right, the Obama administration is more than just a clown show. It “falls into the killer clown horror genre.”