|All on a Whim||
9 September 2019
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
The peace talks to settle the Afghanistan war have been going on in Doha, Qatar, for about 10 months. According to America's chief negotiator Zalmay Khalizad, the parties had reached an agreement in principle about a week ago. It was then that Donald Trump decided to bring Reality TV to global diplomacy ona whim, arranging for talks with the Taliban at Camp David to finalize the deal. Also on a whim, he canceled them. The pretext was the killing of a US soldier and 11 Afghans by way of a car bomb in Kabul. Mr. Trump's ineptitude was on full display.
First and foremost, the US has been negotiating with the Taliban while the Afghan government has not been a full participant. In other words, the US will make the deal, and the Kabul government will live with it. Then, when the US troops leave, the Taliban will take over. The Kabul government must sign off on any deal, or it could face extermination. The US has different security concerns.
Second, announcing the cancelation of secret diplomatic meetings by Twitter is worse than counter-productive. In diplomacy a failure that isn't public leaves all parties with more room to maneuver than a public failure does. The truth is the announcement of the cancelation was a suprise in most quarters because the existence of a propsed meeting was not generally known.
Third, Mr. Trump may understand what makes for great television, but his sense of history would have made any Camp David meeting over the week-end shameful. Wednesday is the 18th anniversary of the Al Qaeda Murders in New York, DC and Pennsylvania. The Taliban had given aid and comfort to the Al Qaeda terrorists before and after the attacks. To allow them access to Camp David would have shown the president to be insensitive.
The neo-cons in the GOP were upset by that. Representative Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said "no member of the Taliban should set foot" in the presidential retreat. "The Taliban still harbors Al Qaeda," she tweeted. "The President is right to end the talks."
Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, another Republican and a former Air Force officer who served in Afghanistan, said that "never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn't renounced 9/11 and continues in evil be allowed in our great country. NEVER."
The administration is divided between the Secretary of State, who wants a deal to get US servicemen and women out of Afghanistan, and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who wants the kill everything in southern Asia that doesn't salute the American flag. The president is in both camps because he has not real understanding of the situation, global politics or what his job is. He has claimed he could win the war in Afghanistan in a week, but he'd have to kill 10 million people to do it. In truth, that would leave 25 million very angry Afghans who would probably turn on America because of its bloodthirsty president.
What might be useful are lower level talks among the US, Kabul, the Taliban and Pakistan (which founded and funds the Taliban). The Taliban and Kabul are going to have to share power, and the other two are going to be guarantors of the peace. Pakistan is an alleged ally of America, but this journal believes that at least half of its security forces are anti-American. Working together on this may or may not fix that problem, but even if both sides are suspicious of the other, they can coordinate things because they have communcations and past relationships.
What won't work is President Trump deciding that he wants to do something on a whim, doing it, having it blow up in his face, and declaring victory. In other words, someone else is going to have to deliver peace in Afghanistan.
© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.