Another one for the “not helpful” file:
Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher met with top Pakistani leaders today, praising the country’s military offensives in its tribal areas. Boucher also lauded the government’s effort to recruit local tribes to assist in fighting against militants. He said he believes that only ‘harsh military means‘ can solve Pakistan’s problems, and cautioned against talks with militants which he referred to as “people whose only goal seems to be to blow up the Pakistan state and society.”
Hmm. More to the point:
But [Pakistan] retracted that offer [of peace talks with the Taliban] partly due to pressure from the United States and partly because the effort did not stop suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks that have killed more than 4,000 people across the country over the last year and a half.
Boucher said militants were only ‘interested in using the peace talks’ process as more space to rebuild their capabilities.’
Gee, you mean bombing the holy bejeezus out of the Pakistani Taliban from one side and talking “peace” from the other, while failing to provide training to local populations on how to resist nonviolently a violent dominator, didn’t produce results? I cannot imagine why that didn’t work.
Violent militarism like that of the Taliban (and the United States) serves security, identity, and economic functions. It’s not enough to hold peace talks while threatening these three areas of need. You have to be able to redefine and provide access to these needs in order to end violence as a method of participating in political conflict. (For more on this, see Powerful Peacemaking by George Lakey…you know you’re on to something when Cesar Chavez writes an endorsement on your book jacket!) Boucher’s caricature of the militants’ goals are ridiculous. There are very, very few purely villainous people in the world, who just want to ‘blow up people and society.’ These people fight because something is more important to them than peace. The U.S. should spend less time and money on trying to exterminate them and more time and money trying to understand this underlying priority.