There is no new Taliban (Updated August 20, 2021)



1) Peter Beaumont and Hannah Ellis-Petersen, “Afghanistan reports of torture and killing contradict Taliban’s promises; Fighters tortured Hazara men to death, say witnesses, and relative of journalist killed,” The Guardian, August 20, 2021 (14.51 BST);

2) For updates from RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY, see their Gondara site dedicated to Afghanistan. See, eg., “Taliban ‘Intensifying’ Search For Afghans Who Helped U.S., UN Says,” RFE/RL, Gundhara, August 19, 2021.


1) Graeme Wood, “This Is Not the Taliban 2.0; The group’s claims of having changed are probably more reassuring to those unfamiliar with its history,” The Atlantic, August 18, 2021 (6:00 a.m. ET);

2) Saeed Shah, “Afghans Tell of Executions, Forced ‘Marriages’ in Taliban-Held Areas; In public statements, the Islamist militant group has pledged it wouldn’t seek vengeance against government officials and troops,” Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2021 (11:07 am ET);

3) “bTaliban erschießen Angehörigen eines Deutsche Welle-Journalisten, Die Welt, den 19. August 2021 (Stand: 21:37 Uhr).

Should we take the Taliban’s promises of amnesty, protection of women’s rights and other reassurances at face value?

Graeme Wood wrires,

When the Taliban first sacked Kabul 25 years ago, the group declared that it was not out for revenge, instead offering amnesty to anyone who had worked for the former government. “Taliban will not take revenge,” a Taliban commander said then. “We have no personal rancor.” At the time of that promise, the ousted president, Mohammad Najibullah, was unavailable for comment. The Taliban had castrated him and, according to some reports, stuffed his severed genitals in his mouth, and soon after, he was strung up from a lamppost.

In failing to recognize that its surrender to the barbarism of the Taliban in Afghanistan was a major defeat for civilization and its defense of human rights and the rule law, the United States has committed a tragic mistake.

It has abandoned 38 million Afghans to the barbarism of a medieval terrorist regime, and 19 million Afghan women to the dictatorial rule of a misogynistic Islamic ideology which predates the Enlightenment and has not been influenced by it.

The American and allied capitulation to the barbarism of the Taliban must be understood as a terrible setback to civilization and the values of the Enlightenment.

The Trenchant Observer

The Trenchant Observer has been following Afghanistan closely since 2005, when he worked in Kabul as the Team Leader of group of six lawyers charged with advising the government on modernizing its criminal justice process to better meet international human rights standards.