“Nobody can defeat the Taliban militarily,” says Karzai, shaking his head. “As long as Afghanistan exists, the Taliban will exist. They are the sons of Afghanistan and they will always have their place. But the Taliban are not one entity. They are like ~ what is the name of that Greek monster with all those heads? If you cut off one, another will take its place.”
“A hydra. But the Taliban can’t unify my country. They cannot repeat their earlier success.”
“Success?” asks H. “Do you call their kind of government a success?”
“My friend,” he says. “For a scorpion, even hot sand is a relief. We have to start where we are. The Taliban have their place in that. You cannot deny them their achievements. People who have not seen the conditions in the country cannot understand their popularity. But by bringing foreign fighters onto the Afghan earth they have done a thing which Afghans cannot forgive. People can see where they are taking our country. That is why we need friends, real friends, who can help to defeat them politically.”
“Does that include America?” I ask.
“Of course,” he says. “Why shouldn’t it? I don’t dislike America. But America is like the Taliban. It doesn’t have one head. Listen, my friends. I have talked to American diplomats here and in Islamabad. I have talked to the State Department in Washington. I have talked to the CIA and the military. Every one of them has a different idea about Afghanistan, but only America is powerful enough to help us.” He sweeps his hand again over his head. “Their great weakness is to see the world in black and white. It’s always good guys and bad guys with them.” He chuckles. “In meetings they always ask, ‘Is he a good guy or a bad guy?’ They want it to be black and white. But nothing is black and white in Afghanistan. There are a thousand shades between black and white…”
a novel by Jason Elliot