President Donald Trump prompted a barrage of fireworks Saturday by revealing that separate secret meetings had been scheduled for the following day with Taliban negotiators and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Both contingents were to arrive that evening and the meetings were scheduled to commence the following day at Camp David.
However, in nearly the same breath, Trump said that he’d cancelled the negotiations after the Taliban admitted responsibility for "an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people."
Democrats, including 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., according to The Hill, pounced— "It’s just another example of the president treating foreign policy like it’s some kind of game show," Klobuchar said on CNN’s "State of the Union," Sunday. "It’s not a game show, these are terrorists."
Even Republicans were critical of the planned meetings. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who serves on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, was especially aghast:
"Never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn’t renounced 9/11 and continues in evil be allowed in our great country," he said. "Never. Full stop."
Oddly enough, just two days prior to the president’s announcement, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., asked the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan when the administration planned to negotiate with Taliban leaders.:
"I am calling this hearing so that Congress and the American people will have the long-overdue opportunity to understand the contours of your negotiations with the Taliban and the potential risks and opportunities that may result," Engel wrote to envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in a letter. "After nearly two decades of war, we all want to see the fighting in Afghanistan come to an end. But we want to make sure we are negotiating a peace [deal] and not simply a withdrawal."
So, on Thursday Democrats appeared impatient for the administration to negotiate with the terrorist leaders; two days later they were shocked that such meetings had, in fact, been scheduled.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace that the decision to meet directly with the parties was the president’s:
"President Trump ultimately made the decision," Pompeo said. "He said, 'I want to talk to [Afghan President Ashraf Ghani], I want to talk to these Taliban negotiators, I want to look them in the eye.'"
Seven years earlier Trump criticized then-President Barack Obama’s talks with the Taliban — not for his efforts to negotiate, but rather the manner in which they were conducted — by treating Taliban leaders as equals:
"Joe Biden said that the Taliban 'is not our enemy,'" Trump said.
The president added, "I wonder how our troops in Afghanistan that are under attack view Biden's statement."
Eight months later, Reuters reported that the Obama administration had sweetened the deal in order to revive peace talks. What resulted was the infamous prisoner swap of five senior Taliban commanders in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
"Pathetic — @BarackObama is 'sweetening' his offer to the Taliban," Trump tweeted at the time. "Read 'The Art of The Deal.'"
Trump was spot-on.
Peace talks with the terrorists were never resurrected and Bergdahl was later dishonorably discharged and only able to avoid prison time by pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
In the current situation, although an agreement had been reached between Taliban leaders and the U.S. envoy in principle, the Taliban demonstrated their lack of sincerity by murdering 12 innocents, including U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz days before the meeting.
They again proved it with their response to the cancelled meeting.
"Both sides (U.S., Taliban) were busy with preparation for the announcement and signing the peace deal, but now the U.S president called off the peace dialogue . . . this will lead to more losses to the U.S., Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, according to Reuters.
Clearly, the Taliban’s only goal was the United States’ withdrawal so that they could continue their reign of terror unabated.
And if they could get a few more Gitmo prisoners out of the deal, so much the better.
The administration was right to have opened talks between the U.S. envoy and Taliban negotiators.
Diplomacy is always preferable to war.
The president was right to get personally involved in the process and "look them in the eye." That’s how he negotiates — it’s "The Art of the Deal." He’s done the same in his dealings with North Korea.
Finally, Trump was right to walk away from what turned out to be a bad deal.
The Kabul attack proved that the Taliban weren’t serious.
As Pompeo told Wallace, "Lots of bad folks have come through that place," referring to Camp David. "There’s been lots of peace negotiations taking place. It’s almost always the case that you don’t get to negotiate with good guys."
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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