White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked about Vice President Joe Biden's comments on the Taliban earlier today. "Look," Biden said in an interview in Newsweek, "the Taliban per se is not our enemy."
Carney's response was a bit muddled. "I think it’s important . . . to understand what most Americans I think know which is that we did not invade Afghanistan, we did not send U.S. military personnel into Afghanistan because the Taliban were in power," Carney said. "They had been in power. We went into Afghanistan because Al Qaeda had launched an attack against the United States from Afghanistan."
The president's spokesman continued:
"And what the vice president was reflecting is that – and this is related to the reconciliation process that I was just discussing – is that the Taliban, per se – while we are fighting them – it is not the elimination – the elimination of the Taliban is not the issue here. The objective that the president laid out when he laid out his Afghanistan strategy made clear that the his number one principle here is to defeat, dismantle – disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat Al Qaeda. As well as help stabilize Afghanistan and that’s what we’re doing. Part of that process, is our support for the Afghan-led reconciliation talks. The conditions for reconciliation for the Taliban are very clear, but reconciliation has to be part of the long-time – the long-term process in Afghanistan if Afghanistan is going to evolve into a peaceful country."
To sum up Carney's thoughts: America is "fighting" the Taliban, but the Taliban is not America's enemy.