The two presidents -- Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama -- were onstage together in the East Room of the White House for 40 minutes May 12. They each talked about how they had differed in the past and how committed they are to going forward together. Both leaders expressed great hope in their mutual "quest for peace" and the forthcoming "peace jirga," or "reconciliation talks," to be held in Kabul at the end of this month. Neither the leaders nor any of the journalists present mentioned a cease-fire or the unseen skunk at their picnic, Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Mullah Omar, secretive head of Afghanistan's Taliban movement, is one of the most wanted men on earth. His sanguinary regime sheltered Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida as it prepared for the 9/11 attacks. The U.S. government's Rewards for Justice program has a standing offer of "up to $10 million" for information resulting in his capture or confirmed death because he "represents a continuing threat to America and her allies." Now, thanks to Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, Mullah Omar may be a key factor in the upcoming "peace talks" trumpeted by Obama and Karzai at their joint White House news conference.
Both heads of state avoided reference to the ISI or Mullah Omar as they gushed about the "consultative peace jirga," which starts in Kabul on May 29. And each president spoke glowingly about "commitment" to an "Afghan-led peace process" that allegedly will produce a negotiated settlement among Afghanistan's warring parties -- and the country's neighbors, meaning Pakistan and Iran. Karzai announced he wanted to consult with "thousands of Taliban who are not ideologically oriented, who are not part of al-Qaida or other terrorist networks or controlled from outside in any manner troublesome to us."
Obama observed that the "peace talks" will include those who have "a respect for the Afghan Constitution, rule of law (and) human rights, so long as they are willing to renounce violence and ties to al-Qaida and other extremist networks." An awkwardly worded joint communiqu<é>eé> vaguely noted U.S. "support for an inclusive process that includes broad representation from across all of Afghan society -- both men and women -- and takes into account their concerns and priorities."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.