Initially organized chiefly to try to lure major military commitments from NATO member nations for the ongoing war in Afghanistan, Thursday’s London Conference was eventually redefined as an all-purpose planning session for a massive nation-building effort.
But as most of that planning seems to have gone on behind closed doors before the conference, it seems now that the most high profile goal for the conference is fundraising, and more precisely fundraising for a Taliban “buyout.”
Officials are now saying the total funds raised for Taliban bribes at the conference could easily total $500 million, which would go into something called the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund before being distributed among assorted Taliban members.
It is hoped that the money will be sufficient incentive to lure the Taliban, the government of Afghanistan before the 2001 US invasion, to return to positions within the government and end the insurgency. Germany has pledged $70 million, while Japan is expected to contribute a much larger amount.
In the meantime, the United Nations is scrambling to remove the names of senior Taliban leaders from the official list of terrorists, so that they can be bribed without any accusations of “funding terrorists.”
There seems to be considerable debate within the Obama Administration, however, over whether this rapprochement effort should include paying off the Taliban leadership at all, or whether the goal should be to bribe away enough of the low ranking members that the US can still claim some semblance of military victory over whatever remains.
Even then it remains to be seen how willing the Taliban will be to come to the bargaining table, as the war’s momentum seems to be in their favor. The Afghan government claims the Taliban are ready and willing, but they have made similar claims in the past which turned out to be false. If nothing else they will probably be eager to come to the table to claim their money, once NATO finishes raising it.