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In other words, it had many of the features of a real government.

Had the Taliban followed the rules that would have allowed it to be widely recognized as the government of Afghanistan by the international community, even following its overthrow by allied forces, it still would be an uncontroversial act to negotiate a prisoner exchange. Only three states—Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

It declared the country’s name to have been changed to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and established a network of shuras—or consultative bodies—which sought the participation of tribal leaders, military commanders and clerics.

There was a Cabinet, a security service and a military; the Taliban also appointed governors and administrators of cities and towns.

Does the American military still back the “no soldier left behind” doctrine? Does this instance constitute “negotiating with terrorists” or something more complex? And finally, who are the prisoners in this instance and does it matter what they did? Bush made clear that the American response would entail something far different from what had ever been attempted in the past.

“This will be a different kind of conflict against a different kind of enemy,” he said in a radio address on September 15, 2001.

The Taliban’s refusal to meet the requirements of its international agreements led other nations, including the United States, to refuse recognition.

The United Nations Security Council demanded that the Taliban follow the dictates of numerous treaties by fighting terrorism and recognizing human rights, particularly for women.The United States proclaimed such a commitment would require the Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda leader.The Taliban not only failed to comply but did not surrender him even after the 9/11 attacks.These criminal groups were not governments, although when they captured merchant ships and successfully obtained ransoms, the booty and the vessels were often turned over to rulers in Algeria, Tripoli, Morocco and Tunis.After achieving independence, the United States assumed responsibilities for protecting its own ships from the pirates, a duty that had previously been handled by the British and, in some circumstances, the French.There is some to praise, some to condemn and much to wrestle with in the exchange of five Taliban leaders detained at Guantanamo Bay for U. The truth is, anyone who believes this is a simple decision open to immediate criticism or celebration is probably driven by politics, and not knowledge of international or military affairs.

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