Daily Video

March 11, 2009

Should the U.S. Talk to the Taliban?

This weekend President Obama told the New York Times that some top U.S. officials have suggested trying to talk to factions among the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban, and so has Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

This idea of engagement worked in Iraq after General David Petraeus organized outreach to Sunni leaders, turning many against al-Qaida.

But many in Afghanistan are not so sure. Margaret Warner, reporting from Kabul, talked to some Afghans who do not want even moderate Taliban leaders in negotiations and some who felt there is no such thing as a moderate Taliban member.

The video blog begins with a two minute explainer from Ray Suarez and then a conversation between Suarez and Warner.


“Five percent of the Taliban is incorrigible, not susceptible to anything other than being defeated. Another 25 percent or so are not quite sure, in my view, the intensity of their commitment to the insurgency. And roughly 70 percent are involved because of the money, because of them getting paid.” – Joseph Biden, Vice President of the United States

“There are definitely people who say, ‘You know, we didn’t have much freedom, but we did have more security.'” Margaret Warner, NewsHour Correspondent

“[A Taliban spokesman] said, ‘Yes, negotiations are absolutely the only way. Neither side is going to win this militarily.’ And he says, ‘All Afghans know that; it’s just the U.S. standing in the way.’ – Margaret Warner, NewsHour Correspondent

Warm Up Questions

1. Where is Afghanistan? What countries border it?

2. What is the Taliban? What is al-Qaida?

Discussion Questions

1. There are a lot of opinions about whether or not the U.S. military should open talks with the Taliban, what do you think? What are the benefits? What are the draw backs?

2. Do you think that U.S. officials talking to militants is a good idea in general? Why or why not? Research where and when it has happened before and to what result.

3. Margaret Warner said that some Afghans are talking about possible U.S. engagement with the Taliban but some people are dealing “with more pressing issues.” How do you think the United States is reflected in the news in Afghanistan? What do you think some of those more pressing issues are?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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