Trump was wrong to negotiate with Taliban

Published 6:44 pm Monday, September 9, 2019

By John Tures
Professor of political science at LaGrange College

Earlier this year, I visited the World Trade Center seeing the waterfall memorial to the thousands who died on 9/11. I’ve also been to the Pentagon, traveling there just weeks after the terror attack. My wife gave me her handmade flag pin to place at the makeshift memorial there. I also took several pics of the crash site, to show students, and remind ourselves never to forget.

Yet I can’t help but feel that we’ve done just that. While we negotiated with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan this whole year, we not only failed to learn the lessons on 9/11, but we failed to show the victims we won’t repeat the same mistakes.

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Just as a reminder, the Taliban gave Osama bin-Laden the base he and his al-Qaeda terrorists needed to attack the United States on 9/11. The U.S. drove the Taliban from power in a short period of time in 2001, with help from NATO and Afghans.

“Those [negotiations] have been under way since last winter, when Mr. Trump’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, began trekking to Doha, Qatar, for meetings with Taliban representatives. United States and foreign officials said that the talks had reached an advanced stage and, until Saturday night, that an agreement with the Pashtun insurgent group that once harbored the Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden was close at hand.”

Since the beginning of this year, the Trump Administration has been negotiating with the Taliban to pull U.S. soldiers out of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Taliban has been killing American military personnel this year, during those very negotiations, while assassinating our allies in the Afghan government. These were on verge of succeeding, as the President invited Taliban leaders and Afghan leaders to Camp David this past weekend.

I cannot tell you how happy I was that President Trump finally terminated those talks after a soldier was killed. I wish he had done so a lot earlier when a number of American military members were killed. You can’t talk with someone in good faith while they are killing your people. If the Taliban were serious about “peace,” they might have taken a break from targeting Americans and fellow Afghans. Afghans are against any sort of peace deal with the Taliban.

Yes, President Obama’s Administration also talked with the Taliban back in 2012. Here’s why the talks never went as far as they have under Trump. The Taliban still refuse to give up supporting international terrorism, and have blocked any sort of accountability for their prior actions. Ironically, President Obama was condemned by Donald Trump at the time for negotiating with the Taliban.

So yes, I’m pleased that before 9/11/19, we’ve stopped working with the Taliban to end American involvement in Afghanistan. The question is whether we’re going to continue to support President Trump’s call to end America’s presence there, or are we going to commit ourselves to finish off Taliban. Are we going to abandon the Afghan Government and allow the Taliban to regain power, or continue the policy of others to train and equip the Afghan Army?

It is my hope that President Trump listens closely to our military on what should be our policy in Afghanistan.

Our generals have the best idea about how to keep us secure, and not allow our enemies a chance to support a second 9/11 aimed at this country.