October 28th, 2009
05:15 PM ET
12 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. LacrosseMom

    NO........ NO..............NO..............NO................NO...............NO.................NO!

    The Bush Regime has had the CIA paying the Afghan's leaders brother, Ahmed Karzai for the last......... eight years......... and what has that accomplished!

    The U.S. has to learn that $$$ doesn't BUY anyone!

    October 28, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. They call me "tater salad"

    And which country will be LOANING us the money to do it? Everybody and there brother knows we can't pay for it! We're already in DEBT UP TO OUR EYEBALLS!!!!!!! What do you think China is gonna do when they come calling looking to be paid back and we can't......Report us to a collection agency? GET REAL!!!!!!!!!

    October 28, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  3. Phat Elvis

    ha ha big surprise. what do you think foreign aid to Egypt and Pakistan are, care packages?

    October 28, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  4. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    Just what USA did with the surge in Iraq. That is how the tide turn in Iraq.. if you can call it that. When there is still bombings in Iraq I wouldn't call it successful. This is what rethuglicans call success. Buying loyalty... hmmm, I guess that does sound like the rethuglicans strategy. Want an example, look at Palin. She is a sell out.

    Now we are giving money to afghans... ummm, HELO WHAT ABOUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?!? GTFO of Afghanastan and spend that money here, in the old USA. I guess the joke will be on the afghan people when they realize the dollar is worth less than a penny today... LOL suckers... wait a minute...

    October 28, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  5. Cindy

    A nation of mercinaries? Once you start paying them, they won't want us to stop. I don't think this'll work. It's gotta be hearts and minds, not pocketbook lining.

    October 28, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  6. Louis

    For the last fifty years, our government has been wasting billions/trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars on misguided foreign policy, spending our beloved country into the ground. They never learn and we all weep in dispair.

    October 28, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |

    It sounds like to me that Obama is sending ACORN over there. Paying money to thugs and criminals for their alleigence. If it worked over here, why not over there.

    October 28, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  8. DJ

    Same thing was also attempted in Vietnam

    October 28, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  9. Penny - Canada

    Unfortunately, the long history of Afghanistan demonstrates that Afghan groups who are paid off by occupiers, do not stay paid off even while they are being paid, and get very, very angry when the paymasters stop paying them.

    October 28, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Voice of Reason

    So let me get this straight... We're going to take money from law-abiding Americans, and use it to pay Political malcontents in some distant land (most of which have never travelled more than 150 miles from their birthplace (let alone to America)? And we're doing this so they wont, what? attack us? The idea is laughable.

    The Taliban were protecting Al-Quaeda, bt did not sponser them. They currently dont have the ABILITY to do anything more than pool their resources and continue to fight our troops ... Who happen to be in afghanistan.

    You see where I'm going with this? If we weren't in Afghanistan, they would not have the ability to cause us any more harm than any other third-world group of malcontents who stew about their living conditions, and find a convenient target for their grumbling in a faceless, foreign land – like the USA.

    I say, leave the place altogether, and let them sit in their caves and plot. It will all come to nothing (if THAT much). And we can stop borrowing money from our grandchildren to keep this farce going.

    'nuff said.

    October 28, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  11. S Callahan

    This is a good idea since poverty, and survival, compel people to act in ways they normally wouldn't. What good are words to any man when his belly is hungry, his (or his families) basic needs have to be met first.
    Since this is historic there must be some type of measurement....how many have reverted back to serving the Taliban again? That would be the curious question...and tell more about the success rate of this program. Any answers to the question CNN?

    October 28, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  12. phoenix86

    The application of Obama's domestic policy to his foreign policy....spend, spend, spend. I wonder how much interest we will pay for borrowing to buy off our enemies, or how long that purchase will buy peace.

    Weakness easily recognized by tyrannts. Obama is viewed as very weak by the Taliban and the upswing in violence is a response to their belief that, once pressed, Obama will retreat.

    Unfortunately for the Afghans, I think the Taliban is correct.

    October 28, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  13. m smith

    They have had success with this in Iraq back during the Bush administration so what is the difference? I would rather try this then send 40,000 troops

    October 28, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  14. Waiting for 2012 to get my change back

    This is the stupidest idea yet! Does this Naive commander in chief really think this will work? Does he plan on providing life long Welfare for them, like they do with millions of Americans. I am really wondering why the heck I should bother working anymore, the government takes more than half of it in various taxes and fees to throw it away on crap like this. Are we going to borrow this money too, or print it?

    October 28, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. Willy Brown

    What make them all democrats?

    October 28, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  16. Mark

    And when the money runs out guess what happens!

    October 28, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. g

    if you can,t beat them buy them, look,s like a lot of iraqi,s just got layed off ,pay them to like you ,how manycountrys are you going to pay with china,s money

    October 28, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  18. Veteran

    It's definitely beyond being too much involvement from politicians if someone came up with the idea that billions of dollars will be wasted giving money to our enemy! If you're going to pay anybody, how about the families of the servicemen and women who have given their lives. . . or how about the VA so they can provide better care and services . . . or how about paying the servicemembers the Democratic controlled Congress are now leaving stranded and outnumbered at the forward operating bases in Afghanistan!
    What 's going to happen on Veteran's Day next week? Many federal employees will take the day off supposedly in honor of Veterans. If you support this idea of this country paying our enemies, which is similar to paying a "ransom", better stay at work!

    October 28, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  19. Cliff Vegas

    Persians also say that freedom is paid in blood because water evaporates too quickly. Will cash make a difference?

    October 28, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  20. P.Y. Los Angeles

    Did anybody bothered to think ,what will happened if somebody will pay them more ?

    October 28, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. bob in LA

    I am will to convert from being a Taliban ( I became one about an hour ago) Please send me a check for support of the current Afghan policies.
    Thank you

    October 28, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  22. Lawrence of DC

    S ince when do we pay our enemies
    T o stop waging a war of terror against
    U s. This has to be the dumbest thing
    P resident Obama has. done to date.
    I nstead of doing what he promised us he'd
    D o, Obama is paying Extortion to terrorists.

    October 28, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. Wise Latina

    How much is Obama going to pay ME to be a good boy???

    All the reprobates (both home and abroad) get rewarded for being evil in Obamaworld...and all the decent law abiding people get to write the checks...

    We need a Reagan. We have a spineless circus clown.

    October 28, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  24. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Will they get bonuses for each American soldier they've killed? It's outrageous, offensive and disrespectful for the Administration to even consider this idea.

    October 28, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  25. dave

    i can't believe you're paying money to tribal warlords and taliban..i just cant believe it they must be laughing all the way to the bank..maybe they'll send some of it to Osama!!!!!!!!!!!! this seems totally idiotic..if this is the result of Mr Obama's decision making i am completely discouraged in our leadership..God save us!

    October 28, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
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