Peace talks with the Taliban are over. Or are they?


Not that I ever had much hope for success coming from peace talks with the Taliban, but now it looks as if the process may have completely collapsed. Or at least that’s what the President was saying on Twitter last night.

So the President had been planning to bring Taliban leaders, along with officials from Pakistan, to Camp David? Presumably, they would have been coming there to sign some sort of peace agreement allowing us to finally exit Afghanistan. But since the Taliban decided to detonate a car bomb that killed one of our soldiers along with eleven other people, Trump pulled the plug on the meeting. (Associated Press)

President Donald Trump said he canceled a secret weekend meeting at Camp David with Taliban and Afghanistan leaders after a bombing in the past week in Kabul that killed 12 people, including an American soldier, and has called off peace negotiations with the insurgent group.

Trump’s tweet Saturday evening was surprising because it would mean that the president was ready to host members of the Taliban at the presidential retreat in Maryland just days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. More than 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to go after the Taliban, which were harboring al-Qaida leaders responsible for 9/11.

Canceling the talks also goes against Trump’s pledge to withdraw the remaining 13,000 to 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan and end U.S. involvement in a conflict that is closing in on 18 years.

So are the peace talks really “over” now or are they just paused? Trump’s big on negotiating tactics and walking away from the table might just be a way to force some sort of concession from the Taliban before he’s willing to come back and try again. Remember that he walked out on Kim Jong-un once already but they’re still supposedly engaged in denuclearization talks.

I still don’t know if any of this is really worth it when it comes to the Taliban. Things in Afghanistan haven’t changed much at all for centuries and they are very unlikely to change now. The fact that a car bomb went off on Thursday means one of two things. Either the leaders of the Taliban can’t control their own troops or they have no intention of dealing in good faith. As far as that goes, both of those things could be true simultaneously.

The war in Afghanistan was always going to end in only one way, and I’m hardly the first person to say this. At some point, America and our allies are going to have to leave. And when we do, the Taliban will be back in charge in no time. The new government we helped set up controls almost no territory outside a couple of cities and the Taliban will wreck them the moment we’re gone. And then things will go back to the way they always were, just like it did when the Soviet Union left. (And everyone else that’s ever tried to take over the place.)

The Taliban can’t be trusted. That’s been obvious from the beginning. They knew they couldn’t defeat us in open warfare so they disappeared into the mountains to run a terror campaign against our forces and bided their time. They knew they could afford to simply outlast us and we would eventually go away. The remaining question is why we’re dragging out the inevitable. If that’s how this story ends anyway, why not just rip the bandaid off and get out of there now?

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