"Is it possible to negotiate with the Taliban?" So asks Steve Coll in The New Yorker (May 24).
My answer is "yes," providing one employs cutting edge negotiating techniques.
Through years of negotiating with my wife, I have developed highly effective tactics. Here is how I envision succeeding in negotiations with Mawlawi Adbul Kabir, the Taliban's Deputy Council of Minister:
Mawlawi Adbul Kabir: Your forces occupy our countries; you corrupt our lands, you besiege our sanctities, and you pillage of our treasures.
Clifford: So everything is my fault. Nothing's ever your fault.
Kabir: For a decade the USA has dictated to our rulers, humiliated our people, terrorized our neighbors, and turned our bases into a spearhead, through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.
Clifford: Why do you always complain? Can'êt you ever say anything positive?
Kabir: All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his messenger, and Muslims. You will cry out in pain for your crimes.
Clifford: I'm not complaining. I merely stated that you always complain. That's not a complaint and you know it.
Kabir: Allah will punish you by your hands and bring you to disgrace. Allah will silence you.
Clifford: I did not raise my voice. You raised your voice!
Kabir: You and your criminal brotherhood are responsible for the shedding of the blood of innocent children. It is a duty now on every tribe in Afghanistan to fight jihad, in the cause of Allah and to cleanse the land of infidels.
Clifford: Whoa. Now it's my family! Why do bring my family into this? Regarding family, your whole family is wacko.
Kabir: These tragedies and calamities are only a few examples of your oppression and aggression against us. Do not await anything from us but jihad, resistance, and revenge from the family of the just.
Clifford: I did not bring your family into it. I simply observed that you all share a certain trait. Can't I make a simple observation without you going ballistic?
Kabir: Our Lord, shatter their gathering, divide them among themselves, shake the earth under their feet, and impede their thunderous lies.
Clifford: Im not yelling. You're the one who is yelling.
Kabir: Soldiers of Allah, ride and march on. This is the time of hardship, so be tough. And know that your gathering to liberate the sanctities of Islam is the right step toward unifying the word of the Ummah under the banner of "No God but Allah."
Clifford: I didn't start it. You started it!
Kabir: I concede. You win. You are right about everything.
Total concession is the result I usually achieve when I use these negotiating techniques with my wife.