Karzai, Afghan President, wants to open negotiations with the Taliban, even with Mullah Omar.
Until now, the administration has said that it has to stay in Afghanistan and beat up the Taliban before we (or Afghans) can talk. Yet, Obama insists he will start removing troops next year. Either we are fighting for the Afghans or we're fighting against them: a majority of Afghans want peace talks, according to the latest polls.
Karzai is visiting Washington this week. In fact, a good part of his cabinet has come with him.
Last I checked, a majority of Americans felt that Afghanistan was not a fight worth fighting (about 52%). Further, the latest attempted NY bombing came out of Pakistan, not Afghanistan. The precipitating factor in that attack probably was Obama's intensified drone war in Pakistan.
Obama has had trouble maintaining his popularity in the face of right-wing media attacks, and a signal to the elected government of Afghanistan to go ahead and negotiate, might drive the right wing crazy. However, despite Fox's attempt to spin it as "weakness," peace negotiations would be popular.
It wouldn't be popular with the generals. McChrystal might hate it, and Gates might have to hold his nose (or resign, not a bad thing). But Obama should consider: Democrats, in the run up to the Congressional elections could run on: a recovering economy and negotiations leading to withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Democrats could also push the Feingold-Kaufman amendment (again), to facilitate breaking up the big banks. Then they could run on: Peace, recovery and fixing Wall Street. Let the Republicans run against all that!
In any case, now is a golden opportunity to seize the populist initiative temporarily lost to the Tea Party crowd, by coming down on the side of peace in Afghanistan.
Why not? If the administration continues to lean on Karzai to forego top-level negotiations, then we should all know who is really in control here: it isn't Obama, and it isn't the Democratic majority in Congress, either. It's the Imperial caucus: the generals, the defense industry fattening on the wars, and the right wing media machine that hypes them.
Think about it, President Obama! You won election by being against the war in Iraq, and polls show a majority of Americans against the Afghan war. Your support has slipped with your base, partly because of that war. Your support among independents has slipped because of the emotional attacks on "government takeovers" by the right-wing media.
Yet, you can legitimately claim you saved the economy through your actions. What you and Democrats can't claim, yet, is that you have brought peace. Your base will be lukewarm until you can.
Tell Karzai, "Okay. Negotiate." Then hype it and see your poll numbers surge. And the chances for Democrats in the Fall would improve as well.