Vice President Joe Biden's claim that the "the Taliban per se is not our enemy" is drawing criticism and derision.
London's Telegraph ranks it as the fourth most foolish quote from the Obama administration in 2011. Pakistan's The Nation notes that the White House has not tried to correct Biden's reference, so "It is thus clear that Mr Biden's remarks represent Obama Administration policy."
Biden made the remarks during an interview with Leslie Gelb released Monday by Newsweek. The United States invaded Afghanistan and fought the Taliban because the terrorist group would not hand over Osama bin Laden after 9/11. With bin Laden dead and al-Qaida damaged, the American view on Afghanistan has changed, he said. It would be "good enough" to have an Afghanistan which no longer served as "a haven for people who do damage and have as a target the United States of America and their allies."
The Obama administration may not see them as an enemy, but the Taliban "still are a threat to humanity, to any form of progress," Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa writes in the Daily Beast.
Nawa, author of Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman's Journey Through Afghanistan, describes life in Afghanistan before, during and after Taliban rule. Schools were closed when the Islamic extremists came to power. Women were beaten and forced to remain indoors and her relatives lived in constant fear of Taliban raids. They welcomed the American invasion and see signs are progress. All of that will be lost in any reconciliation that brings the Taliban back to power
"In some provinces, life is better, especially for women," Nawa writes. "Millions of girls are going to school for the first time, women are in the government, back to teaching, running businesses, and have access to basic health care. Reports that violence against women has risen can be seen as a positive sign, because it means women actually are reporting the violence. During the Taliban time, that violence was state-sponsored."
For Afghans like Nawa and her family, "these 10 years of fighting will have been futile" if any American-brokered deal fails to protect freedom for women.