Those Freaking Out About Negotiating With the Taliban Need a Better Argument

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Yesterday, a major story broke via Donald Trump’s Twitter feed involving the war in Afghanistan. He announced that he had cancelled a major negotiating meeting between the US and Taliban at Camp David. This came not he heels of the Taliban bragging about carrying out a terrorist attack in Kabul.


Because everything during the Trump era must produce moaning and gnashing of teeth, this turned into a major scandal, specifically among some on the right.

Here’s National Review’s David French, who naturally had to use this as a way to snark on Twitter and project his supposed moral superiority, because that’s his entire shtick.

Yes, I’m sure that’s it. I’m sure Trump, this entire administration, and the entirety of the Obama administration had no idea who the Taliban were until this week. We’ve been negotiating with them since 2013 completely clueless as to their true intentions or something. Trump was citing a recent attack, not asserting he had no idea they had committed such acts in the past.


Then there was Bill Kristol’s personal grifter and faux 2020 Republican primary candidate, Joe Walsh, making this silly comment.

Trump was hoping to end a nearly two decade long war that’s claimed thousands of lives. Walsh is going to walk around for a photo op while taking shots at people trying to end said war. Does he really think that tweet makes him look like the better person in this equation?

I despise this kind of intellectually dishonest tripe. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 18 years. Let me repeat that. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 18 years. There was a time when the war there made sense. It no longer does and the only way to negotiate a peace is to deal with the Taliban. Those are the realties of the situation on the ground. No amount of virtue signaling and prideful Twitter rants are going to change that.


Kurt is exactly right here. There is zero chance we are going to escalate Afghanistan into a major conflict again, complete with the civilian casualties it’d take to really hamper the Taliban. The United States citizenry has no stomach for it. Nor, do they have a stomach for staying there another decade or walking away in total defeat.

That leaves one option. You negotiate with the Taliban and try to get some concessions that allow us to keep a strategic hold in the area to prevent future terrorism. This was not some crazy idea made up by Donald Trump. These negotiations go back seven years and have held bi-partisan support since at least the last few years of the Obama administration. The right is just as apt to want an end to war in Afghanistan as the left are.

I’ve seen some say this is about meeting at Camp David and it being close to 9/11. If the administration felt they were close to a deal, why would anyone care about such concerns over optics? Shouldn’t ending the war and the bloodshed of American military members be the priority? I don’t get the moral argument there at all. It seems completely backwards to me.

Here’s the biggest issue though. People who want to argue for not negotiating because of optics, pride, or some other worry about decorum continue to make no effort to articulate their strategy for victory, nor what we are actually fighting for. It’s not 2001 anymore. Our surveillance and counter-intelligence technologies are far more advanced. We don’t have to stay on the ground in Afghanistan, having soldiers continue to die into perpetuity, just to be able to stop the possibly of future terrorist training camps being built.


The Taliban are not going anywhere. We have no path to extricate them from the country because the American people, nor its politicians on both sides support major escalation. We either negotiate with them and do what it takes to get a deal, even if that means a meeting at Camp David, or we continue slogging away, letting soldiers die while we are unwilling to put them in a position to win. The former is a much better option, much more moral option at this point.


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