Trump Cancels Secret Meeting at Camp David With Taliban After Attack
Just days before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Donald Trump announced that he has called off peace negotiations with one of the allies of the terror group that perpetrated those attacks.
Trump announced on Twitter that he was cancelling a secret meeting he was going to hold on Sunday with the Taliban. The meeting was to be in the U.S. at the presidential retreat at Camp David.
The Taliban took credit for a car bomb that exploded in diplomatic section of Kabul near the U.S. embassy, killing 11 including one American soldier.
The Camp David meeting was to take place against a backdrop of positive signals coming from both American and Taliban negotiators in Doha who had been saying that a deal was close. In fact, a report from the Taliban political office suggests that an agreement had actually been reached.
With a series of tweets, President Donald Trump has upended nearly a year of U.S.-Taliban negotiations on ending America’s longest war. He has “called off” the talks and asserted that a planned secret meeting between him and Taliban leaders at Camp David, set for Sunday just days before the 9/11 anniversary, is now canceled. Some question whether it was a face-saving attempt after the deal his envoy said had been reached “in principle” faced serious challenges.
The Taliban took half a day to respond, saying the abrupt decision hurt U.S. credibility after they had “finalized” a deal, but said the U.S. likely would return to negotiations. The two sides had still been talking on Saturday, they said — two days after Trump said he had “immediately” called off talks.
That deal must have been a real stinker. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to sign off on it and Trump apparently buried it.
What's so bad about it? It's not necessarily what's in the treaty that is the problem, it's what was left out:
But the deal doesn’t ensure several crucial things, those familiar with the discussions tell TIME. It doesn’t guarantee the continued presence of U.S. counterterrorism forces to battle al Qaeda, the survival of the pro-U.S. government in Kabul, or even an end to the fighting in Afghanistan. “No one speaks with certainty. None,” said an Afghan official taking part in briefings on the deal with Khalilzad. “It is all based on hope. There is no trust. There is no history of trust. There is no evidence of honesty and sincerity from the Taliban,” and intercepted communications “show that they think they have fooled the U.S. while the U.S. believes that should the Taliban cheat, they will pay a hefty price.”
The attack on Thursday, so close to the U.S. embassy, was a clear message from the Taliban: after nearly two decades of fighting, the Americans are impotent and can't defeat us.
Pompeo said that the talks will resume -- eventually.
Despite Trump's statement that he was ending peace talks, Pompeo said the administration is still working toward a deal and was seemingly close to one before Thursday's bombing in Kabul.
"We have it in hand, and there's still more work to do ... but in the end, it won't be about the commitment, it'll be about their delivery," he said. "We're going to keep driving toward that outcome."
Should Trump have even mentioned the meeting at Camp David? Aside from the national security implications, Trump opens himself up to charges of hypocrisy.
That part is true and may not sit well even with some of the president's supporters. The Taliban cannot be trusted. The fanatical terrorists are loyal only to their own twisted ideology and feel no obligation to honor any agreements with infidels.
But if this is the best deal we can get, we should take it. Our men and women are dying for nothing now. It's time to cut our losses and leave Afghanistan to the Afghans. Trump will no doubt take a political hit. But the alternative is even less appetizing -- endless war and casualties in a lost cause.