• We Can Be Glad the President’s Meeting with Taliban Leaders Was Cancelled

    Surge Summary: The President has dumped the idea of meeting with the Taliban at Camp David in an attempt to end American involvement in Afghanistan. Good idea.

    Not a few conservatives are rejoicing that the huddle planned at the President’s retreat facility between him and Taliban leaders has been cancelled.

    National Review’s Editors are among them.

    The best thing to be said for the planned Camp David meeting with the Taliban is that it didn’t happen[, they write.]

    President Trump has a weakness for the grand gesture. Hosting the leadership of a vicious, terrorist insurgency that aided and abetted September 11 and is trying to kill Americans as we speak certainly would have been . . . memorable.

    The invitation was part of the effort to bring to a conclusion negotiations that were close to a deal, although not one favorable to the interests of the United States.

    The deal would have included the U.S.’ reducing its current troop presence of approximately 15,000 down to zero over the next sixteen months – and, at that point, any commitments made by the terrorist-complicit group would be rendered worthless. Eighteen years of warfare in that region has been frustrating to many; certainly understandable. That said, it would be foolish to wrap up what has been called this “endless war,” or our at least to wrap up America’s part of it, if the Taliban are left in position to threaten Kabul and harbor international terrorists who mean America harm.

    Some might recall another president – a recent one – who fulfilled a campaign pledge to end a war at all costs — and who then ended up ordering troops back into that war zone mere years later when ISIS terror troops took over the abandoned region. We’re talking about Barack Obama and Iraq, of course.

    If and when the Afghan civil war ends, it will involve a settlement with the Taliban and the Afghan government. This was not even close to that. The Taliban agreed to begin talking only to the Afghan government, and the deal didn’t even entail a ceasefire. There were reportedly conditions in an annex that the Taliban would be very unlikely to meet, giving us the leeway to put the brakes on our withdrawal. But if we don’t want to get out — and we shouldn’t — why ink a deal that creates even more doubt about our staying power and legitimizes the Taliban?

    Fact is, the negotiations seemed to actually embolden the Taliban’s villainy. President Trump commendably cited a Taliban suicide car-bomb attack that killed a U.S. soldier as the reason for nixing the Camp David meeting. Thankfully, as in his Hanoi summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, the Commander-in-Chief is willing to overturn his own dramatic diplomacy moves when it becomes clear they will not be producing welcome results

    The NR scribes advise

    put[ting] aside the negotiations and work[ing] on a sustainable strategy for preserving a presence in Afghanistan. We should be looking to minimize our troop commitment within reason (the number the administration has talked about of 8,600 is probably workable), although what will likely be a renewed Taliban offensive should forestall any immediate drawdown. Unlike other terrorist hot spots, land-locked Afghanistan is not accessible to us from surrounding countries. A presence there doesn’t just stabilize the Afghan government, it gives us the option of launching operations into Pakistan (we never would have killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan if we hadn’t been in Afghanistan).

    The fear that the Afghan war will be “endless” shouldn’t push us into ending it badly.

    General James Mattis, who served under both Presidents Trump and Obama, refers to the terrorist menace as an “ambient threat”. It’s probably not going to simply go away because we want it to do so.

    It reminds me of what the late Sen. John McCain said – one of those occasions when he offered a reflection worth repeating: If terrorists in the Middle East/Asia continue to endanger America, we must keep our forces over there for one-hundred years, if necessary.

    It’s a nasty prospect, but it could be reality.

    A meeting at a nice spot in Maryland surely wouldn’t, automatically, have changed that.

    H/T Editors/National Review

    Image: By isafmedia – originally posted to Flickr as DSC_6183_smallUploaded using F2ComButton, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10786901

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