We haven’t heard much about Afghanistan recently, but it’s time to reveal what’s going on…
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not going to sign his name to the agreement that he and his group negotiated with the so-called Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, better recognized as the Taliban, but not for the purpose that Time magazine wants you to think.
After almost 18 years of conflict involving the US and NATO, which removed the Taliban from power in the weeks following the 9/11/2001 terror attacks, the agreement is intended to give peace to Afghanistan. Under the agreement’s “tightly held” terms, the US would reduce its presence to less than 9,000, down from the current figure by about 5,400.
Sources tell Time magazine that the deal, negotiated by US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, “doesn’t guarantee the continued presence of U.S. counterterrorism forces to battle al Qaeda, the survival of the pro-U.S. government in Kabul, or even an end to the fighting in Afghanistan.” An anonymous Afghan official said that the agreement is “all based on hope. There is no trust. There is no history of trust. There is no evidence of honesty and sincerity from the Taliban.” And that the Taliban believes that “they have fooled the U.S. while the U.S. believes that should the Taliban cheat, they will pay a hefty price.”
Despite Time‘s headline, and reporter Kimberly Dozier’s insistence in the first paragraph that the deal is so “risky” that Pompeo won’t sign it, the rest of the story indicates otherwise. Further down in Dozier’s report, she writes that while the “Taliban asked for Pompeo to sign an agreement with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” he refused because having “the Secretary of State sign such a document would amount to de facto recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political entity.” That seems wise to me rather than an indication of some major rift within the Department of State, or between President Trump and Pompeo.
Concerning the anonymous worries of representatives of the Afghan government, I’m not sure I see the issue. Does anyone believe that the Taliban can be trusted? Does anyone believe that without heavy US assistance, the pro-US government won’t collapse? Does anyone believe we’re not going to have to keep attacking jihadis with or without a peace agreement? And has anyone ever thought that any piece of document would put an end to the conflict in Afghanistan, where tribal warfare has been the norm since ancient times?
No sane individual thinks anything like that.
By his lights, the Afghan official is correct to attempt to get US troops to remain because if severe combat returns to Kabul, his head might be on the line.But if the disingenuous of Dozer’s reporting is any indication, the press will try to kill Trump for bringing home our troops after nearly two decades of war that mostly became pointless years ago. You can bet that if Obama brought them back, the news would be quite different.
We’ve done all we can Afghanistan. We tried to build a nation where there never was one, we tried to bring modern sensibilities to a society which is mostly pre-modern, and it’s OK to admit that it didn’t work out. If we have to leave a few boots on the ground, just enough to tell the bombers where to go, then so be it. Other than that, it’s time to come home.