Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday: “If the Taliban don’t behave, if they don’t deliver on the commitments that they’ve made to us now for weeks, and in some cases months, the president is not going to reduce the pressure, we’re not going to reduce our support for the Afghan security forces that have fought so hard there in Afghanistan.”
Well, then, apparently we’re going to stay in Afghanistan forever and a day, because here is a news flash: the Taliban aren’t going to “behave.”
Pompeo’s statement comes after President Trump announced that he had scheduled peace talks with “major leaders” of the Taliban at Camp David. Pompeo explained, “President Trump ultimately made the decision. He said, ‘I want to talk to [President] Ashraf Ghani. I want to talk to these Taliban negotiators. I want to look them in the eye. I want to see if we can get to the final outcome we needed.’”
However, Trump canceled these talks after the Taliban killed an American soldier. The President suggested that these talks would be resumed if the Taliban changed their behavior. When he was asked Sunday if the administration’s talk with the Taliban were dead, Pompeo implied that they were not, saying, “For the time being they are.”
But the Taliban are not going to change their behavior, because that behavior is based on what they consider to be their responsibility before the god of the universe.
Even if the Taliban decide to give the appearance of “behaving,” it will be after the manner of the “Palestinians”: an insincere commitment to peace talks that they are only participating in so as to win concessions from the Afghan government and Trump that they couldn’t win on the battlefield.
This entire comic opera of negotiations with the Taliban never would have taken place if there had been a clear understanding of the nature, motives, and goals of the Taliban’s jihad, but there isn’t, because that would lead to the airing of uncomfortable facts about Islam, and while this administration isn’t as committed to fantasy Islam as the last one, it still has a long way to go to reach a realistic approach.
Peace talks with the Taliban are always going to be fruitless because the Taliban are never going to give up their religious commitments to jihad for the sake of Allah, and to Sharia as the only legitimate form of government. If negotiations will help them further their jihad, they will participate in them; if not, not.
Pompeo added, “We’re not just going to withdraw because there’s a timeline.”
All right. So under what circumstances are we going to withdraw? When there are no more jihadis in Afghanistan, or when they’re a tiny, insignificant force? Our current rules of engagement don’t even allow for that outcome to become a possibility. What we need to do is get out now, a withdrawal that is long, long overdue, and focus on containing the jihadis of Afghanistan so that they cannot pursue their jihad outside of that country. Afghanistan is not going to become a Western-style secular republic as long as Islam continues to exist, and Islam doesn’t show any signs of going away.
To be sure, President Trump is in a difficult position. All his Democrat opponents want to do is destroy him; they don’t care about anything else. So as long as he keeps American troops in Afghanistan, they will carp about “forever wars.” But if he withdraws our troops from Afghanistan, the establishment media will trumpet every gain the Taliban make after we’re gone, and scream that Trump has betrayed our gallant Afghan allies in the Ghani government.
The president needs to remember his maxim of “America First,” and use that to guide him in what to do next. If he did that, our troops would be on their way home in the near future, but without any chimerical and self-defeating assurances of peace from the implacable jihadis of Afghanistan, and with a new strategy for containing their influence worldwide. Is such a new strategy on the horizon? No, and it won’t be unless and until the president decides to grasp the nettle that none of his recent predecessors have dared to grasp, and base his strategy on a realistic appraisal of the reality of political Islam and the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.