During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama famously said that the U.S. should negotiate with Iran without any preconditions. Obama’s notion of diplomacy with the mullahs was widely ridiculed at the time, including by his then rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton. More than three years into the Obama administration, multiple attempts at negotiations with the Iranians over their nuclear program have not led to any progress.
Attempts at negotiations with the Taliban have not gone any better. But Obama administration officials are so desperate to move the talks forward (as part of a planned drawdown in Afghanistan) that they are not only willing to negotiate without any preconditions, they are also willing to make concessions in advance of the hoped-for talks.
As Reuters reports, the Obama administration is willing to transfer the five most dangerous Taliban commanders in U.S. custody to Qatar before the Taliban does anything. The Taliban Five are held at Guantanamo and would be exchanged for Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who “is believed to be being held by Taliban militants in northwestern Pakistan.”
Here is how Reuters describes the new proposal: