If it is not, Bill Frist may as well not bother to run for anything except cover. Because there are going to be a lot of rotten tomatoes flying about.
QALAT, Afghanistan U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan guerrilla war can never be won militarily and called for efforts to bring the Taliban and their supporters into the Afghan government.
The Tennessee Republican said he had learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated by military means.
"You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government," Frist said during a brief visit to a U.S. and Romanian military base in the southern Taliban stronghold of Qalat. "And if that's accomplished we'll be successful."
First of all, let me make something clear: The Taliban is a murderous band of terrorists who’ve oppressed the people of Afghanistan with their hateful ideology long enough. America’s overthrow of the Taliban and support for responsible, democratic governance in Afghanistan is a great accomplishment that should not and will not be reversed.
Having discussed the situation with commanders on the ground, I believe that we cannot stabilize Afghanistan purely through military means. Our counter-insurgency strategy must win hearts and minds and persuade moderate Islamists potentially sympathetic to the Taliban to accept the legitimacy of the Afghan national government and democratic political processes.
National reconciliation is a necessary and an urgent priority … but America will never negotiate with terrorists or support their entry into Afghanistan’s government.
I've covered enough really bad AP reporting this year to not assume they got any of the quotes right at this point. So, I am going to wait before I fly off the handle.
UPDATE: Sister Toldjah with a bit of common sense for those who are really getting worked up about this:
For anyone still thinking Frist is a defeatist even after his clarification, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Frist is out after this year. He’s not running for re-election. Rep. Harold Ford (D) and Bob Corker (R) are vying for his seat. That means, assuming we retain control of the Senate, we’ll have a new Senate Majority Leader next year.
2) How many others in the GOP support Frist’s ‘defeatist’ position? As it stands, I don’t know of any Republicans in Congress who share the pre-clarified position of Frist. But if it were a lot, don’t you think it would make more sense to leave the GOP entirely if it was a party position rather than just the position of the SML who is on his way out the door?
UPDATE: More from Ed Morrisey:
However, it does bring up an important point about the eventual end game in Afghanistan. If we want a representative democracy in Afghanistan, it will probably be heavily influenced by the Pashtuns, who have a strong Islamist bent. They did, after all, push the Taliban into power. At some point, we have to find a way to convince these Islamists to buy into democracy, and we have to be willing to allow that democracy to develop its own laws and customs. Otherwise, we will have to prop up a strongman who can keep the Pashtuns oppressed, which will create an even greater Islamist impulse in Afghanistan.