Dealing with the Taliban does not mean negotiating with them. We remain at war. The Taliban is a recent phenomenon. It arose to power quickly, created much trouble through enforcement of Sharia law, was attacked and removed by the US government through war, and now remains alive on the outskirts of government in Afghanistan and in the weeds in Pakistan. Given the history as summarized below, it makes no sense for the US superpower to lend more credence to the Taliban. In fact, US foreign policy should be to address the root causes for the reasons why the Taliban still exist and persist.
The point of invading Afghanistan (and Iraq too) was to demonstrate to nation states and terrorist groups that the US will not tolerate the existence of such organizations as they present a threat to national and international security. The Taliban is the pointy end of what is a war against radical Islam and all that it stands for as an affront to freedom and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This war is not finished.
“The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan. It spread throughout Afghanistan and formed a government, ruling as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from September 1996 until December 2001, with Kandahar as the capital. However, it gained diplomatic recognition from only three states: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Mohammed Omar has been serving as the spiritual leader of the Taliban since 1994.
While in power, it enforced its strict interpretation of Sharia law, and leading Muslims have been highly critical of the Taliban's interpretations of Islamic law. The Taliban were condemned internationally for their brutal treatment of women. The majority of the Taliban are made up of Afghan Pashtun tribesmen. The Taliban's leaders were influenced by Deobandi fundamentalism, and many also strictly follow the social and cultural norm called Pashtunwali.
From 1995 to 2001, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence and military are widely alleged by the international community to have provided support to the Taliban. Their connections are possibly through Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a terrorist group founded by Sami ul Haq. Pakistan is accused by many international officials of continuing to support the Taliban; Pakistan states that it dropped all support for the group after 9/11. Al-Qaeda also supported the Taliban with regiments of imported fighters from Arab countries and Central Asia. Saudi Arabia provided financial support. The Taliban and their allies committed massacres against Afghan civilians, denied UN food supplies to 160,000 starving civilians and conducted a policy of scorched earth, burning vast areas of fertile land and destroying tens of thousands of homes during their rule from 1996 to 2001. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee to United Front-controlled territory, Pakistan, and Iran.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Taliban were overthrown by the American-led invasion of Afghanistan. Later it regrouped as an insurgency movement to fight the American-backed Karzai administration and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The Taliban have been accused of using terrorism as a specific tactic to further their ideological and political goals. According to the United Nations, the Taliban and their allies were responsible for 75% of Afghan civilian casualties in 2010, 80% in 2011, and 80% in 2012.”
“White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said Monday that senior lawmakers were informed months ago that the administration was negotiating for Bergdahl.
“We've been consulting with members of Congress about this effort, including the potential transfer of five Gitmo detainees, for years” he said. “So this should not have been a surprise to any of the members of Congress who've been … commenting about it.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said critics should view Bergdahl’s release as a standard prisoner exchange instead of negotiating with terrorists, which the United States declines to do as a matter of policy.
He expressed hope it could lay the groundwork for a broader peace deal with the Taliban, one of Obama’s highest priorities in Afghanistan.
“Could this embolden terrorists? Again, I remind you this was a prisoner of war exchange. He was a prisoner,” Hagel told reporters in a briefing. “Maybe this could provide some possible new bridge for new negotiations.””