Tealiban: Talking to the Dark Side

There is some commotion in the Netherlands following a report in The [London] Times (6 January) that Dutch troops in Afghanistan have found a new way of beating the Taliban. They invite them round to tea. The Dutch blog Het Vrije Volk points out that the Taliban are guilty of mass murders, gang rapes and other hideous crimes. As U.S. President George W. Bush said: “If you harbor a terrorist, if you support a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, you’re just as guilty as the terrorists.” That, however, is not how the Dutch government sees it.

The Dutch are acting in accordance with the policy of Ben Bot, their minister of Foreign Affairs. Last November 3rd, while visiting Afghanistan, Bot said the Western nations had to cooperate with “moderate Taliban.” According to Bot not all Taliban are extremists and the moderates have to be won over instead of fought. Taliban are Sunni Islamic extremists who ruled Afghanistan as a theocratic totalitarian dictatorship from 1996 until 2001.

The Times reports how the Dutch military HQ in Uruzgan province, on the fringes of Taliban country, is run as an open house where locals, including Taliban sympathizers and fighters, are encouraged to air their grievances and talk politics, whilst munching nuts and dried fruit and sipping tea. The reaction to the “Dutch model” is mixed. Some locals say the Dutch act “with great respect for local culture, traditions and tribal leaders – that has had a positive impact.” Others accuse the Dutch of surrendering most of Uruzgan to the Taliban.

Last December 2nd, the Canadian Globe and Mail also reported on the Dutch model. According to the Dutch officers their tactic works. The Canadian paper reported that

Listening to the radio frequencies often used by [Taliban] insurgents, the Dutch interpreters heard locals discussing the new type of foreigner that was replacing the U.S. troops. “They said, ‘Those Dutch aren’t here to fight, they’re here to talk,’” Lt.-Col. Van der Sar said.

The Dutch, however, are reluctant to discuss their method in detail, since the idea of negotiating with terrorists remains a subject of debate among NATO allies. The Globe and Mail noticed that in a PowerPoint briefing for a visiting reporter a Dutch Lt.-Col. quickly moved past a slide titled “Talking to the Dark Side.”
The Dutch blog Het Vrije Volk wonders how the Dutch would have reacted if the Allies, instead of fighting the Germans in the 1940s, had decided “to have tea with moderate Nazis. There were many of them as well.” Methinks the Dutch might have preferred it that way, as would undoubtedly the French and the Belgians.


Firstly, your post is unintelligible and non-sensical. Secondly, Tealiban was a humorous corruption of 'Taliban' not an actual term.

Nobody can control Tealibs

Tealiban can not be controlled by US or Europe. They are extremists and they need from Europe just one thing - money to survive (and to buy some new weapon I guess)

In Response

After reading the background articles, I admit that I agree with the Dutch model. Of course, the success of co-operation rather than confrontation was first highlighted by the New Zealand provincial reconstruction teams who were much more respected than their American allies who aggressively attacked all vestiges of the Taliban, and who faced unrelenting hostility. Naturally, the Dutch must be prepared for combat with an increasingly ferocious Taliban, however, they seem to have a great deal of the recipe for winning the peace. Afghanistan is and will remain Islamic, whether or not it pursues a more moderate or liberal course with democracy and the rule of law, or it is seduced by the religion's most violent and hardline elements will depend upon winning the peace i.e. converting Taliban supporters into loyal citizens of the government and preventing any further spread of grassroots support. Again, the Taliban bases and forces across the border in Pakistan can only be dealt with in a combative manner, yet when it comes to their Afghan supporters (both the complict and conspirational) they must be turned (unless they physically attack NATO forces). Unless NATO is willing to commit democide against those pro-Taliban segments of the Afghan population, tea and talk are the only other viable approach.


Don't laugh, it's called polderkrieg.

But seriously, perhaps some Taliban factions really are moderate, in the sense that the term "moderate" describes something in relation to something else. The PLO really is moderate when compared to Hamas; reportedly, the conservatives around Khamenei are truly moderate when compared to the clerical backers of Ahmadinejad. And so, whenever my mind runs over the groups and ideologies in the Islamic world that are accurately depicted as moderate, it makes me wonder how mindboggingly scr*wed up that world must really be.

Re: Tealiban

This closely follows the lessons we have drawn from our long multi-cultural tradition. When dealing with extremists, do not talk to the moderates who oppose those extremists; instead, talk to the moderate extremists.

Methinks that the conjunction of their name and "tea" casts undue aspersion on the Taliban and their goal of reestablishing their Islamist paradise. If to anyone, this should be applied to the Dutch NATO troops. This is more important than it might at first appear. When, following Dutch custom, their buurtcentrum is upgraded to a kultureel centrum, a song-and-dance routine could be just what is needed to loosen up the Taliban. The "Weak Ts" or the "Twirling Tealeaves" could become a smashing hit, dealing a devastating blow to Taliban aspirations in the region.