October 28th, 2009
05:15 PM ET
13 years ago

U.S. set to pay Taliban members to switch sides

(CNN) - There is a well-known saying in Afghanistan: "You can rent an Afghan, but you can't buy him."

Some experts on the region believe a U.S. program to pay Taliban fighters to quit the organization is buying temporary loyalty.

President Obama on Wednesday signed a $680 billion defense appropriations bill, which will pay for military operations in the 2010 fiscal year. The bill includes a Taliban reintegration provision under the Commander's Emergency Response Program, which is now receiving $1.3 billion. CERP funding also is intended for humanitarian relief and reconstruction projects at commanders' discretion.

The buyout idea, according to the Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is to separate local Taliban from their leaders, replicating a program used to neutralize the insurgency against Americans in Iraq.

"Afghan leaders and our military say that local Taliban fighters are motivated largely by the need for a job or loyalty to the local leader who pays them and not by ideology or religious zeal," Levin said in a Senate floor speech on September 11. "They believe an effort to attract these fighters to the government's side could succeed, if they are offered security for themselves and their families, and if there is no penalty for previous activity against us."

But Nicholas Schmidle, an expert on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region for the non-partisan New America Foundation, said that while the plan has a "reasonable chance for some success," the old Afghan saying will eventually be borne out.

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Filed under: Afghanistan
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. AJ

    There we go, another bright move!

    October 28, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  2. Denna

    I wish we could just walk away from these wars. But once they're started you can't just pick up your marbles and go home. I don't know if paying these people to switch sides will work. Countries run by religious fanatics don't act like other countries. I wish that our commanders would start working on a way out of George's wars instead of trying to talk President Obama into committing yet more young lives. One thing for sure, whatever the Republicans advise President Obama to do must be ignored as they are only angling for him to fail. The do not care about America.

    October 28, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. mjm

    Well, bribes are the Chicago way. Let's see if Pay-To-Play works like it did for Obama.

    October 28, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  4. foxrun

    Another brilliant idea made by our President.

    October 28, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  5. STILL unemployed in Iowa

    whats this, Obama's way to play lets make a deal with a terroist.

    Tax Dollars Wasted.

    October 28, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  6. Ken in NC

    I do not think that is a good idea because while it may work as long as the pay is good, sooner or later the money is going to run out. I know it will because we are already broke and can't pay our own bills so I know we wil not be able to pay them for very long. We need to bring our troops home to defend our borders and stem the flow of arms out and drugs in and take care of our own first.

    I am about fed up with us trying to take care of the world while our own people starve and die without health care and educations.

    October 28, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  7. 2010 can't get her fast enough

    Would Obama's main cheerleader and former presential castoff Jawwwwn Kerry call these fine folks "the coalition of the coerced and bribed"?

    Never mind, you people ought to be ashamed that you elected this lying coward of a fraud who appeases the wrong countries (Russia, Venezuela etc), slaps our friends (UK, Poland and the Czechs etc), aplogizes for bad America while NEVER saying the good we have done FOR THE WORLD and now bribing the enemy.

    Ashamed, ashamed, ashamed.

    October 28, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  8. Scott, Tucson

    Our tax dollars at work and in the mean time the Dems are actively searching for new ways to pick our wallets to fund hair brain schemes like these. Maybe our money would be better spent if we offer to pay certain liberal democrats money to leave our country and to leave us alone.

    October 28, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  9. jsmith

    I wish I thought Obama knows what hes doing, but I know he doesnt. For that we will have Soldiers give their lives, disgraceful.

    October 28, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  10. Brett from Oriskany,VA

    Gee now I know why I won't get a social security raise! Maybe I need to get a turban and an AK-47 and surrender to get some help in this economy. They bailed out AIG, GM, Citicorp etc, now there gonna bail out the Taliban and screw Americans out of social security, health care and jobs . I voted for Obama, I expected some kind of change, but I'll bet this system of corporate greed is so entrenched, Obama can't break it. Sad, this isn't the country I fought and bled for anymore.

    October 28, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  11. Debbie

    This strategy was used in Iraq and would be a successful strategy here. Afganistan is a tribal nation and they fight each other as well as "outsiders." Those who can help them earn their trust enough to fight for them. We either do it or the Taliban will.

    October 28, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  12. A wised up Democrat who is now an Independant

    This is the sickness that has taken over our country as Commander-in-Chief. They call the illness OBAMA. If this is true this nation needs to storm the White House and ride this man out of Washington on a rail. And not a greased rail at that. But surely it is just another of the inflammatory lies started that has been used from day one against SARAH PALIN. It don't take much to get some people to banging drums and yapping like a bunch of Hyennas.

    October 28, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  13. New Yorker

    Is anyone surprised that Obama would want to give the Taliban our tax money? Did you really think he was going to limit the distribution of wealth to our country only> No,no, he told you up front he's a "citizen of the world".

    October 28, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
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