"Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy," Vice President Joe Biden told a reporter not long ago, adding, "That's critical."
Indeed it will be critical to Biden's boss, President Barack Obama, as he attempts to find a politically acceptable way to declare "mission accomplished" while U.S. troops are pulled out of Afghanistan.
As so often is the case, Biden's comments are transparently political, not statements of fact. The Taliban are our enemy.
Biden apparently hopes Americans will forget the Taliban sheltered Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization, providing it a safe haven to plan and organize the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America. And he must believe people in this country will forget that, even as some of the Muslim world condemned the assaults, the Taliban refused to give up bin Laden or other al-Qaida leaders.
Finally, Biden must believe Americans have very short memories - though he may be at least partly right about that. Some in this country still recognize the Taliban as one of the most brutal regimes of modern times, ordering executions of women for trivial offenses.
When the time comes to pull U.S. troop out of Afghanistan, the Taliban should be left with a simple message: Resume sponsoring international terrorism and the consequences, while probably not involving an invasion, will be swift and terrible.