All-Star Panel: Why does US want to talk peace with Taliban?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 20, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The parties there have been fighting for a very long time, even before 9/11. And we don't expect that it will be easy, but we do think ultimately we're going to need to see Afghans talking to Afghans about how they can move forward and then the cycle of violence there so that they can start actually building their country.


CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: President Obama pushing the idea that peace talks with the Taliban will go somewhere towards ending the war in Afghanistan. And we're back now with our panel. Well, Bill, does it make sense for the U.S. to broker talks between the Afghans and the Taliban? Is there any reason to believe that the two sides can reach a political settlement, an agreement to end the war in Afghanistan?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Not, I'm afraid, a lasting one, unless you can have peace talks with an enemy you've defeated. President Obama, didn't he site the Irish example at the beginning of his trip in Dublin. The IRA was willing to negotiate because the IRA had been pretty thoroughly defeated in its goals. The Taliban does not think they've been defeated, especially when President Obama says, every time he deigns to address the issue of Afghanistan, which isn't very often, he says we're getting out, don't worry, we're getting out as fast as we can, the war is ending. So I think if you're the Taliban, you're happy to string along some peace talks but you have no incentive to negotiate seriously.

WALLACE: We should point out the talks went off the rails, almost went off the rails before they even started. The Taliban opened an office in Doha, Qatar, there you see it, and put up their flag and a sign calling themselves the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as if they were a separate country and this was the embassy of that country. This was clear violation of the conditions for the talks beforehand. And Afghan President Karzai was absolutely furiously. Kirsten, not exactly an auspicious start to the talks.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: No. They're basically off for now. But I don't honestly know how much they could accomplish. I don't blame the secretary of state for trying to broker some kind of deal, though we have to be realistic. This is the Taliban. And the idea that they're going to somehow sign a piece of paper and then stick to that. They're just waiting for the United States to leave. And the minute the United States leaves, they're going to go back to whatever they want to do.

And the idea that we're going to talk to them about women's rights is -- this is theological for them. We're not going to convince them that women are equal. So good luck to Secretary Kerry, I guess, but it's a -- you know, I think it's very unlikely that we can count on anything that they commit to.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Charles, big picture. What do you make of this entire enterprise and why do you think the Obama administration is pushing it?

KRAUTHAMMER: Cover. In the Vietnam War it was called a decent interval. It's a way to show we're negotiating our way out when Obama has said one way or the other we're going to leave. This will not accomplish anything. The Taliban understand exactly what's going to happen. If the allies, the West is going to leave, the war will resume, and they assume they will ultimately defeat the government already in Kabul.  So they have no incentive to concede anything.

And I think Karzai was absolutely right to blow up over what happened yesterday because it was sheer propaganda move. It was a way in which the rebels, the Taliban, were claiming the legitimacy of the government of the previous one, the pre-9/11 government, and Obama in a clip that you showed earlier on the show dismissed it as a couple of words on a wall. I mean, doesn't he understand that this is all about who's a legitimate government? To dismiss it as a couple of words is to misunderstand exactly why the rebels are coming to the table. It's to achieve legitimacy, to get equal status in the world with the Karzai government. You've got one choice in Kabul, you've got one choice in the Taliban, and that is exactly what the Vietnamese did in negotiating at the end of that war. That was why we had all the arguments over the shape of the table of negotiations. Who had the status of legitimate government? Obama would have given it away with a flick of a hand, but now he has had to reverse himself but only because Karzai, who is not that stable to start with, flipped out yesterday.

WALLACE: So I understand what you are saying about what's in it for the Taliban. What cover does it provide for the U.S., for President Obama?

KRAUTHAMMER: Because instead of speaking about how the war is going to wind down and to see how ultimately the war will end up accomplishing nothing. And remember this, many more Americans have died under Obama in Afghanistan than under Bush. Obama is the one who tripled the number of troops, Obama is the one who declared a surge. Obama is the one who wanted to somehow pretend, let's not say pretend. Democrats had run saying that Bush took his eye off of the ball, he didn't invest in Afghanistan. Obama wanted a vindication of the Democratic view. Instead it left a lot of Americans dead. And he never intended on winning the war. He said on the sentence after announcing the surge that he would be leaving. So I think it is a way to kind of retroactively vindicate a surge which obviously has failed.

WALLACE: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for some celebrity news, you have to see to believe.

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