Gates: Timing Not Right for Taliban Reconciliation

Deal Unlikely Until Taliban Starts Losing, Secretary Insists

Though Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says he envisions an eventual reconciliation of some sort with the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, he feels that the timing is not right as long as the insurgents enjoy momentum on the battlefield.

I think the view of most of us is that until the momentum of the battle turns against the Taliban… that the likelihood of any kind of reconciliation on the part of the leadership of the Taliban is very small,” Secretary Gates said.

The Taliban has been gaining increasing influence along southern Afghanistan, and while the administration has continued to refer to the war as “stalemated,” it seems that the Taliban’s ability to contest control over the region is only getting stronger over time.

Yet ultimately, it seems like the only reason the US has entertained the notion of a settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban is because it is doing so shabbily against the insurgency. The administration seems to hope the escalation planned for later this year will turn the tides, but if the situation does improve it seems unlikely the US will offer much in the way of terms for the other side.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.