Romney stays resolute on not negotating with Taliban

Fox News' Brett Baier then replied that one of the governor's foreign policy advisers - Mitchell Rice - has said that the Taliban could be "our negotiation partner."

But Mittens wouldn't go there.

ROMNEY: Yes. The — the right course for America is not to negotiate with the Taliban while the Taliban are killing our soldiers. The right course is to recognize they’re the enemy of the United States. It’s the vice president who said they’re not the enemy of the United States. The vice president’s wrong. They are the enemy. They’re killing American soldiers.
We don’t negotiate from a position of weakness as we’re pulling our troops out. The right course for us is to strengthen the Afghan military force so they can reject the Taliban.
Think what it says to the people in Afghanistan and the military in Afghanistan, when we’re asking them to stand up and fight to protect the sovereignty of their people, if they see us, their ally, turning and negotiating with the very people they’re going to have to protect their nation from. It’s the wrong course. The vice president’s wrong. We should not negotiate with the Taliban. We should defeat the Taliban.

Maybe Romney should reserve his comments for Afghanistan's leader, Hamid Karzai, who admitted that he was negotiating with the Taliban last summer, saying, "In the course of this year, there have been peace talks with the Taliban and our own countrymen. Peace talks have started with them already and it is going well. Foreign militaries, especially the United States of America, are going ahead with these negotiations."

Petraeus has said as far back as 2008 that negotiations with some members of the Taliban could provide a way to reduce violence in sections of Afghanistan gripped by an intensifying insurgency.

Romney has been consistently critical of Barack Obama for announcing that he plans to withdraw most U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by 2014, saying that the administration should listen to the generals on the ground.

But Mr. "No Apologies" obviously draws the line with what the military men have to say when it comes to negotiating with the Taliban, whose leadership has never said they want to conquer America, but drive them out of their homelands, a point made by Ron Paul last night.

"The Taliban used to be our allies when we were fighting the Russians," Paul said. "So Taliban are people who want — their main goal is to keep foreigners off their land. It’s the al Qaeda you can’t mix the two. The al Qaeda want to come here to kill us. The Taliban just says we don’t want foreigners. We need to understand that, or we can’t resolve this problem in the Middle East. We are going to spend a lot of lives and a lot of money for a long time to come."

Syndicated columnist David Ignatius reported last week that the Taliban are supposed to soon be making statements soon rejecting international terrorism and supporting a political process in Afghanistan — the first steps toward eventual renunciation of al Qaida and support for the Afghan constitution.

In his quest for the GOP nomination, Romney has worked hard to fend off the accusation that he's a moderate, and that means being as harsh as possible on much of Barack Obama's record. That appears to be the case on foreign policy, where he likes to play into the perception that Democrats - and Obama -are weak on defense, though the record might appear otherwise. Does Romney really believe that negotiating with the Taliban is weak, though others who have been far more involved in the decade long conflict think it's actually smart? This will be an issue that will continued to be debated through 2012.

How do wars end? Sometimes when one side overwhelms the other, as was the case in 1991 when the U.S. was successful in having Iraq pull out of Kuwait. But more often they end, as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said, with a political solution.

That's why Gates and David Petraeus, our current CIA director and former chief commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, have both advocated negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

But that's weak, according to Mitt Romney, who repeated that assertion in last night's GOP presidential debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

"Now, the Taliban is killing Americans. This president has done an extraordinary thing. He announced the date of our withdrawal. He announced the date of the withdrawal of our surge forces based upon a political calendar, not the calendar that the commanders on the ground said it was based for our mission. That was wrong.
And then he announced the day that we’re going to pull out of the country all together. And now he wants to negotiate from a position of extraordinary weakness? You don’t negotiate from — with your enemy from a position of weakness as this president has done."

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