President Donald Trump is preparing a shameful cut-and-run from Afghanistan, the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the disastrous U.S. retreat from Vietnam. This is happening not because it would benefit the Afghan people or make the world safer but because, for his reelection bid, Trump needs to be able to claim he brought this nearly 18-year war to an end.
By keeping U.S. negotiations with the Taliban secret — even from Afghanistan’s elected leaders — Trump apparently hopes to start withdrawing U.S. troops before the American public wakes up to this new atrocity.
Our nation’s longest war turned into a quagmire years ago. By anyone’s definition, it started as a justified post-9/11 response to rid the world of al-Qaida and its Taliban hosts. But it didn’t work out that way. Taliban forces simply retreated and regrouped. They now dominate the Afghan countryside.
Special U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad announced this week that a U.S.-Taliban peace deal had been reached in principle, although details remain secret. Trump says he will begin withdrawing 5,400 U.S. troops over the next 135 days, with the remaining 8,600 to be pulled out in stages.
Although elected Afghan leaders and their Taliban counterparts are supposed to negotiate their own peace deal as U.S. forces depart, it’s clear that the Taliban is simply waiting to sweep back into power by force. Trump, expressing exasperation with U.S. “nation building,” has signaled no intention to stand in the Taliban’s way.
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This deal is a U.S. concession of defeat, handing back Afghanistan to al-Qaida’s best friends in flagrant disregard of the thousands of American troops who fought and died there. For the Afghans who embraced democracy and put their fates in American hands, an unmitigated disaster is unfolding.
Afghans will be left to the mercy of Taliban terrorists who think nothing of harshly beating and oppressing women, imprisoning their detractors, publicly hanging alleged adulterers, slicing off the hands of accused thieves, or cutting out the tongues of accused blasphemers. They will not hesitate to exact revenge on the thousands of Afghans who collaborated with the American occupiers.
The Taliban’s “peaceful” intentions were on display this week as the group negotiated with Khalilzad while launching the suicide bombing of a Kabul neighborhood, killing at least 30 Afghans. Another bombing Thursday killed 10, including a U.S. soldier. Whatever deal is worked out, it’s clear that the Taliban, once free of a U.S. military presence, plans to unleash a bloodbath. The group’s cold-blooded record, past and present, speaks for itself.
This is what America gets for putting in office a president who has no understanding of battlefield honor and whose only prior military experience consists of a heroic fight to obtain a bone-spur deferment. The cut-and-run, easy way out has always been Trump’s mantra.