Over the past three years, the Trump Administration has secured several foreign policy achievements. From moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to crippling the Islamic State, and putting pressure on Iran, the Trump administration has kept campaign promises that have asserted the U.S.’s strength on the world stage.
But there’s another task President Donald Trump is trying to accomplish that is not receiving as much media coverage: Ending the war in Afghanistan, which is now the United States’ longest-ever war. Trump’s opposition to the war isn’t new; he has called for it to end since 2012.
Now, as president, he has worked to finally bring our troops home. His tactic? Negotiating with the Taliban, one of the most oppressive Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organizations in the world that once harbored Osama Bin Laden. This strategy is not only dangerous and unreliable, but it strengthens the Taliban.
In many areas under Taliban control, people have their limbs amputated for theft or are stoned as punishment for illicit sex, while smartphones are banned, women are confined to their homes, and most girls can’t attend secondary schools or college.
In January, Trump announced negotiations were taking place in Afghanistan but failed to mention exactly who his administration was negotiating with — as it turns out, it was the Taliban. During the peace talks, the U.S.-backed Afghanistan government, whom the Taliban calls “puppets,” was not present. According to the BBC, a draft framework for a peace deal was agreed upon. At its core was the U.S. agreeing to withdraw and the Taliban prohibiting other terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda from operating in the country.
Since then, several more peace talks have taken place, but the Taliban continues to refuse any ceasefire — even for the holy month of Ramadan — until all foreign troops leave the country. As a result, the Taliban killed three U.S. Marines in April.
The Taliban is also stepping up its carnage in a deadly surge of attacks against humanitarian workers. Three workers for the American aid group CARE and six others were killed by a car bomb and gunmen last Wednesday in an attack that specifically targeted humanitarian offices in Kabul.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that the attack would not be the last. He also complained about the “inter-mixing” going on in organizations, as in men and women working together on projects.
Between January and April, five aid workers were killed, 13 were injured, and 18 were abducted.
It gets even worse. The Taliban is even denying the International Committee of the Red Cross safe passage through areas under their control. How can we negotiate with an entity that does not even allow people under its control essential humanitarian support?
The peace talks also haven’t calmed the Taliban’s rhetoric, but have only further empowered their leaders and granted them more legitimacy. On April 28 — two days prior to the start of new negotiations — Taliban chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai said in a crowd in Doha, Qatar that the United States is on the “verge of defeat.”
“You will soon hear they also will withdraw [from Afghanistan] either of their own accord or they will be forced out,” Stanekzai said in his speech, according to VOA News. Does that sound like the stance of a reasonable entity?
The United Nations isn’t even optimistic. U.N. humanitarian coordinator Toby Lanzer said he is “as concerned, if not more so, than I was in August of last year,” about the situation in Afghanistan.
The hope of U.S. negotiators is that the Taliban will give up violence, and somehow convert from a brutal terrorist organization to a political party that will run in Afghanistan’s democratic elections. But with the Taliban refusing to meet with the Afghanistan government, it is highly unlikely they would willingly participate in the current government. If the Trump administration wants a better chance for the negotiations to be successful, it is paramount that the current Afghan government is included.
The war in Afghanistan has killed more than 2,400 U.S. soldiers and cost taxpayers $1.07 trillion. The 18-year war must come to an end, but the Taliban cannot be trusted to make good on any promises. This “quick fix” will likely embroil the country into more war and leave it messier than before.