A year ago Jack Layton suggested it might be an idea to negotiate with the Taliban. For his trouble, he was branded "Taliban Jack," accused of betraying his party's supposed commitment to human rights and mocked for his naive worldview. It was widely assessed he had made it a lot more difficult to take his party seriously.
Based on stories like the one appearing on this newspaper's front page today, you have to wonder if all of us - myself included - weren't a little harsh. And at the very least, you have to admit Layton wasn't quite as isolated on the issue as we made him out to be.
The Dutch military, one of the only other ones doing the heavy lifting in Kandahar, is reported to "openly describe talks with insurgents as part of their strategy." The Brits do the same thing. Under durress, South Korea certainly wasn't averse to negotiating. And Hamid Karzai, our close buddy in Kabul who Stephen Harper palled around with not four months ago, is busily declaring himself "ready for any type of discussion and negotiations."
None of this is to say that the idea of sitting down with the Taliban isn't distasteful. Nor that it should be done now, since their demands remain completely unreasonable. Nor that Layton's approach was especially thoughtful, since the negotiations he was proposing were basically motivated by a desire to get our troops out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible. But seeing as how we're not going to kill every single Taliban and they're probably not going to surrender unconditionally, raising the spectre of negotiations isn't necessarily the hallmark of a wingnut.