Getting Out of Afghanistan Might Be the Right Decision But it's Hard Not to View it as Surrender
After 18 years, Afghanistan seems like a no win situation. No one wants to admit that the Taliban outlasted us, but America and its NATO allies have no appetite for the military campaign that would be necessary to defeat them. It would be way too expensive in blood and treasure and few people in the United States or Europe seem to care about the outcome anymore.
So, we are negotiating the withdrawal of our 14,000 troops with the Taliban in exchange for their promise not to harbor terrorists once we leave. The deal would include a time-table for troop withdrawals and then direct negotiations between the Taliban and other Afghans regarding the future of their country. The agreement would also dictate a power-sharing arrangement and ceasefire, but there isn't much clarity about those provisions, nor much confidence.
In the meantime violence has been escalating and the Taliban have been gaining ground against the Afghan army. And, to make matters worse, the Islamic State has also joined the fight.
New York Times: "As the United States appears to be nearing a deal with the Taliban on pulling its troops from Afghanistan, the country’s security forces are in their worst state in years — almost completely on the defensive in much of the country, according to local military commanders and civilian officials."...
"The woeful state of the regular Afghan forces has been widely seen as giving the Taliban a valuable edge in its negotiations with the United States, which have gone on for eight rounds in Doha, Qatar, and are believed to be near a conclusion."
The Economist: "The Taliban are especially resistant to a hiatus [ceasefire]. They control more territory than at any time since the war’s beginning and believe that military momentum is with them."
With the Taliban on the march, and Islamic State fighters joining the fray, an American withdrawal will look like surrender and it's difficult to argue that it's anything else. The deal we sign with the Taliban will be a fig leaf to give the Trump administration cover. The President will take credit for ending the war and argue that America can return and crush the Taliban if they renege, but no one in Afghanistan or America believes that. Trump wants out before the situation on the ground deteriorates further, and almost any agreement will do. And, dozens of historians, journalists and foreign policy specialists are already writing their accounts of how we lost the Afghan war.
Still, many Democrats and Republicans support the President's decision to negotiate our exit from what they see as a no-win quagmire. They may be correct, but this sure looks like the Paris peace talks during the Vietnam War. We were negotiating for "peace with honor," or some such notion. It didn't lead to much of either.
By Don Lam & Curated Content