Rachel Maddow interviewed New York Times columnist Frank Rich last night about the Afghanistan war and the upcoming decision that President Obama must make on whether to send as many as 40,000 more troops to that country. Rich is skeptical about the conventional wisdom that if we withdraw we basically hand al-Qaida a victory.
Reacting to a posting on the Taliban's website saying they don't want to attack America or countries in Europe, clashing with the most recent screed from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, Rich said the post serves as a reminder that we shouldn't be so quick to conflate the Taliban and al-Qaida:
One thing that that illustrates is al-Qaida and the Taliban can't be so easily conflated. And whether they're being disingenuous in those statements or not, the fact is the Taliban is a local phenomenon in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and al-Qaida and terrorist organizations like it are international. The tail doesn't necessarily wag the dog, which is one reason why this talk that if the Taliban, we prevent the Taliban from taking over in Afghanistan we therefore we vanquish al-Qaida is not right. They'll just pop up somewhere else.