Trump's Deal With The Taliban

One of Trump’s top priorities sense getting into office was to bring an end to the United States’ military presence in the middles east. To that end he has had US military leadership and diplomats attempting to negotiate a peaceful withdrawal from Afghanistan. Specifically a withdrawal that wouldn’t look like an American retreat. One of the requirements for such a deal would be getting the Taliban to agree to ending conflict with the Afghan government, and that they stop supporting terrorist groups aiming to attack the west.

This effort has been aggravatingly difficult, for multiple reasons.

- The Taliban is not a single group with a single leader. It is made up of different tribal terrorist groups, many of which are not involved in the negotiations.

- The Taliban has repeatedly broken ceasefires and attacked American targets in Afghanistan, some times in an attempt to gain leverage over the negations, other times because they don’t have total power over their fighters. This has led to Trump stepping away from negotiations and making military strikes against Taliban targets in response.

- The US has struggled and has found it difficult to get the Afghan Government leaders and the Taliban to sit at the same table. It is hard to have two parties reach peace when they refuse to talk to each other.

- The Taliban has had a habit of playing along with negations all the way right up to nearly signing it, just to, at the end, make unreasonable demands like requesting our president admit publicly to war crimes. That is what we call a deal breaker.

This week, after 7 days of ceasefire, Trump has finally got some Taliban leaders to agree to a peace plan and the full withdrawal of American forces. U.S. special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban’s political chief, Abdul Ghani Baradar, signed this deal in Doha, Qatar, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo watched. Here is what the plan: included, and what the two parties agreed to.

Taliban agreed to:

- "Not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies”

- “They will send a “clear message that those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies have no place in Afghanistan”

- They agreed to start talks to reconcile the Taliban and the Afghanistan government. Talks are scheduled to start March 10.

- The release of 1,000 Afghan Prisoners, which is dependent on the release of 5,000 Taliban fighters. The release of those Taliban fighters in turn is dependent on the success of the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. That's a lot of "If"s.

- If the Taliban breaks any of these conditions the US Troop withdrawal will be canceled or reversed.

The US agreed to:

- US troops will drop from 12K to 8K in the next 135 days. The remaining troops will be fighting Al-qaeda and ISIS, not the Taliban.

- All US troops will be out in 14 months if agreements are reached with all Taliban tribal groups not represented so far, dependent on the success of the talks with the Afghan government and if the Taliban lives up to its commitments.

- As part of the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban they agreed to and the US promised to negotiate the release of 5,000 Taliban fighters from Afghan jails, dependent on the success of those talks.

This agreement is a major milestone in finally removing US troops from the region, butt it is a small first step in the right direction. It is not a giant leap. The agreement does provide the best possibility of achieving peace in the wake of our departure from the region. However, in the end that peace will not be achieved by, or dependent on, the Actions of the US. This plan sets a road map for how US Troops can leave, If the Taliban and all it’s tribes are able to make peace with the government of Afghanistan. For this agreement to mean anything, it depends on the leaders of Afghanistan to choose peace. It’s a lofty goal, that, based on past history will not likely not be successful.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the singing: “We’re just at the beginning. Furthering the cause of peace will require serious work and sacrifice by all sides,” he added. “This agreement will mean nothing and today's good feelings will not last if we don't take concrete actions on commitments and promises that have been made.”

It is very possible in the next 14 months someone flying the flag of the Taliban will attack an American or Afghanistan target, negating this plan and starting the peace negotiations back at square one. If and when we get to that point, we need to ask yourself; "is peace in the middle east our problem?". If the Afghan government is not strong enough to stand on its own, should WE be the ones propping it up? Should anyone?

I do not aim to criticize the noble pursuit of peace, but we can not force peace on people who do not seek it. This effort is no longer a matter of national security. Our economy is now not longer dependent on the middle east, and we are more than capable or destroying threats to our security without putting boots on the group. Trump's strategy of defeating Iran using political pressure and the weight of our economy will be successful whether or not Afghanistan remains under out influence. We have nothing to gain, and we have already lost so much blood and treasure. Our government leader need to ask them selves; "is the political victory or creating the facade of peace as a pretense to leave, require or worth the cost?"


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