Sometimes, even the most reprehensible sources may nonetheless make a decent point on something. The Nazis conducted what is recognized as the first public anti-smoking campaign. Or Osama bin Laden in October 2004 made some legitimate criticisms of George W. Bush, including the president’s reading children a book as 9/11 unfolded “because it seemed to him that occupying himself by talking to the little girl about the goat and its butting was more important than occupying himself with the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers.”
And it turns out the Taliban, oddly enough, can lay claim to making a good point, too. On their English language website – which utilizes WordPress, also used by this blog – amidst all their articles boasting of killing people, is an article entitled “Hybrid war necessitates hybrid re-think.“
Again, it is full of America-bashing and extolling violence, only to conclude that various types of warfare alone will not defeat America. In fact, the Taliban actually concludes that helping the people is key to victory, striking a populist tone:
In order for the Islamists to succeed they must radically re-think their approach to old forms of governance. A new multi-dimensional mechanism must be enabled that will take advantage of the territory under their control and use political maneuvering to reach their goals. A method which will provide sustainable living conditions for its citizens, create job opportunities, monopolize trade to rival rates of goods and services provided by the regime, establish contacts with outside states and non-state actors and offer incentives for businessmen to invest in trade that bypasses regime tax laws which will let the people thrive and keep the flow of food, oil, gas and weaponry continue.
At the same time efforts must be exerted to stop the brain drain in their territories. The Mujahidin must create unions for doctors and engineers which function as vital organs for any government. A point of contact with this sector is critical as it can provide cheap medical care for the poor and help the Mujahidin maintain and even develop areas under their control which in turn will raise the confidence of the people in Mujahidin and encourage them to invest at locally.
Sustainable living conditions? Affordable healthcare? Job opportunities? Is this the Taliban or Bernie Sanders? (There’s even talk of unions, although I suspect they do not mean labor unions.)
The Taliban, to my chagrin, is actually making a good point: that victory is not going to happen simply by killing people. We have Republican presidential candidates and others extolling bombing ISIS-held territory into oblivion, with Ted Cruz wanting to see if he can make sand glow and Donald Trump wanting to kill the families of ISIS fighters. Winning hearts and minds means actually helping the people who are caught in the crosshairs of violent conflict, instead of killing them and creating resentment among survivors.
However, the Taliban column’s good points come to a screeching halt by the next paragraph, when it concludes that helping the people is a stepping stone to enlisting them “for a protracted conflict [that] will hopefully bring about the desired result which is the restoration of the right of Muslims to live peacefully under the shade of sublime Shariah law!!!” (That’s right, they use three exclamation points.)
So it’s one step forward, one step back for the Taliban.