By Brad Friedman on 12/2/2004, 1:22pm PT  

In a stunning flip-flop from their pre-election rhetoric, the Bush Administration appears to have begun a new appeasement policy for Taliban rebels in Afghanistan.

The BBC is reporting the U.S. amabassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has announced in a recent Kabul press conference that Taliban fighters who give up their arms and pledge their allegiance would be allowed to go free:

It is not clear on what legal basis Mr Khalilzad, in his role as a representative of a foreign country, made his offer to the Taleban.
...
"There's no need to fight, to stay in the mountains," he said. "Afghanistan has entered a new stage."

Taleban fighters should pledge allegiance to the government of President Hamid Karzai.

"In return, they will not be punished," Mr Khalilzad promised.

The "wildly successful" war in Afghanistan, where 18,000 U.S. troops are still stationed, began well over three years ago.

Neither Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban regime at the time of the U.S.-lead invasion, nor Osama bin Laden, the purported target of that attack have been either captured or killed as of this posting.

Appeaser George W. Bush, who once claimed that we would capture bin Laden "dead or alive", has more recently stated that he is "truly...not that concerned about him".