WASHINGTON - President Obama said the U.S. is not winning the war in Afghanistan and suggested trying to engage moderate elements of the Taliban in reconciliation talks.
"Our troops are doing an extraordinary job in a very difficult situation," Obama told The New York Times in an interview. "But you've seen conditions deteriorate over the last couple of years. The Taliban is bolder than it was."
Obama said the U.S. should try to identify Taliban moderates just as they did Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq a practice credited with helping to ratchet down the violence there.
The problem is that identifying a moderate Taliban is going to be a lot like a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimers. You will only be able to confirm it after the victim is dead. ("See, we only shot him. We did not cut off his head. We are moderate Islamists!")
Dear Mr President: General Petraus negotiated from a position of strength. You need to do the same thing. Do not initiate conversations with the mythical moderate Taliban until you can punish - if not defeat - them and protect those who come to our side. Otherwise this really is going to look like Vietnam.
In the meantime, somebody get the President a fedora and an umbrella.