The Taliban have never been able to defeat the Americans (or the British) militarily, but now they might not have to. President Obamas plan to start withdrawing in 2011 has given the insurgents hope. They have watched for ten tortuous weeks as he pondered what to do against a backdrop of plummeting support for the war. Now they have a date. If they do not want to fight, all they have to do is wait. In an elaborate riposte to President Obama, the Taliban tried to exploit what they see as signs that elements of Nato may be losing their appetite for carrying on. The Talibans propaganda wing is remarkably sophisticated for a regime that banned televisions, photography and the internet when they were in power. Eight years on, the insurgents boast an array of websites and media-savvy spokesmen who exaggerate their attacks and highlight Nato mistakes. Yesterdays statement showed an acute awareness of why public support in the West is faltering. The Taliban accused President Obama of dithering and denied posing a threat to the rest of the world. They recalled the fate of the Russians. They said that training Afghan forces was a continuation of an old, failed strategy, and echoed Washingtons concerns over the credibility of President Karzais regime. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has frequently said that we have no intention of harming any one, the statement said. Obama sometimes calls this war a war of necessity; sometimes he calls it a war for the defence of the West and sometimes a war being waged for the security of the world. These are his efforts to mobilise the opinion of the world in favour of this war. If America and its allies are to claim any kind of victory in Afghanistan it is vital that they prove a new resolve but not purely by fighting and training. They must also negotiate with the Taliban so that there is not an enemy left out in the cold when the time comes for Mr Obama to start bringing his soldiers home. (The Times)