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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Trump and The Art of Peace

The New Yorker ran a column by David Rohde, "Donald Trump's Chance to Bring Peace to Afghanistan and End America's Longest War."

He wrote, "On Monday, Trump’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, announced that, after six days of negotiations, he had achieved a framework for a peace deal with the Taliban — something that has eluded American diplomats for more than a decade. The Taliban pledged not to allow any organization to carry out an international terrorist attack from the territory of Afghanistan, in exchange for a full withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. The news sparked surprise — and applause — from American diplomats who have tried and failed to negotiate with the Taliban in the past. 'I think this is the beginning of a credible process for the first time in ten years,' Dan Feldman, who served as the Obama Administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told me."

Feldman made the same argument against withdrawing troops from Afghanistan that the Max Boot Legion of the Neocon Army made about Obama's withdrawal from Iraq.

Rohde wrote, "Trump, in publicly telegraphing his desire to pull out all American troops, Feldman told me, weakens the hands of American negotiators. The Taliban may, in fact, conclude that they could simply wait for U.S. forces to withdraw and then take control of the country. 'The Taliban recognize that the U.S. commitment is waning,'” Feldman said. 'By announcing that precipitously, you take off the table our best leverage.' Young people, women, and city-dwellers in Afghanistan fear that Trump will hastily abandon them and the country’s vast, post-2001 improvements in education, health care, and basic human rights."

Duly noted. The rise of the Islamic State happened after we drew down our troops in Iraq. Then again, al-Qaida came in while we had troops there.

But I doubt the Islamic State will move into Afghanistan because they would have a tougher foe in the Taliban than the Iraq army..

And maybe the United States isn't responsible for every bad thing that happens in the world, or at least the part of the world Washington is obsessed with at the moment.

Trump's America First policy is at play here as it was with North Korea's nuclear weapons. He is letting the two Koreas sort it out. President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong‑un are working out the details. Let them have the Nobel. President Trump just wants peace.

In Syria, Turkey demanded we withdraw our troops, saying the Islamic State is almost vanquished. President Trump said fine, we'll go home, but don't you dare touch a hair on the Kurds. Be careful of what you demand.

The professionals who have gotten us into war after war are flummoxed.

Rohde wrote, "Former diplomats warn that confusing and contradictory messaging from Trump will derail the talks. Last month, the President tweeted, without having informed America’s allies, that he was withdrawing all U.S. forces from Syria. Days later, news leaked that the White House had ordered the Pentagon to withdraw half of the fourteen thousand troops currently serving in Afghanistan. But the Syria announcement — which provoked the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis — was later walked back. And this week Pentagon officials said that they have received no orders to withdraw the seven thousand troops from Afghanistan."

On the one hand, they don't want President Trump telegraphing punches. On the other hand, they do.

President Trump has figured out what he wants — out  —  and what the other side wants — us out. As commander-in-chief he has the power to withdraw. His price is peace.

Richard Nixon had an excellent plan that got us out of Vietnam. All he needed was one appropriation from a Democrat Congress. It said no. Billions for war, not one cent for peace.

I trust the Taliban and President Trump bear this in mind as they cut a deal.


  1. The point about telegraphing punches is not without merit, but Trump seems to know how to get the crazies to do what he wants. He's about due for a mistake, but it would be nice if this wasn't it.

  2. There will never be peace in Afghanistan. It's simply a question of whether we want to maintain a troop presence there or not. - Elric

    1. I agree with Elric. Trump will likely regret this version of 'peace' but I guess his voters won't, at least for awhile. Also I doubt he will be able to completely withdraw from the country. Unlike Iraq there is no cash flow from oil to bribe the local Afghan politicians or the army to keep resisting internal enemies or pay for weapons or infrastructure or even bribe the Taliban. He is trading future wounded warriors for future guaranteed payoffs to their present enemies. Not ignoble but it is not 'winning' so will eventually fail. If he stops supplying juice, he will be blamed for giving the war up for nothing like his predecessor in Iraq.
      The Taliban are culturally primitive and single minded. They remember the Russians taking flight after so many blood soaked years and I doubt they see us as any different

  3. Longest, my burro. We, the colonials and the United States fought various Indian tribes for over three hundred years

    1. Okay.

      Ya nailed the intro para.




      Now get on with the rest of the tale.

      If you would be so kind......

  4. I have met several who have served there. One was severely injured. One loved being rhere. Others didn’t have much to say. I know why we went. I am not sure why we are still there other than I feel bad For Those afghani’s that want to live feeely and peacefully. Kind of like those stuck behind the iron curtain after WWII. that being said, and not understanding the current mission, I would be happy to have our troops come home.

  5. Mollie‏Verified account @MZHemingway

    If you wonder how the establishment is able to maintain endless war -- despite public opinion in favor of a different foreign policy -- Mitch McConnell is giving a master class in it right now. We've been in Afghanistan since 2001. It is 2019.

    Tim Mak Verified account @timkmak

    68 votes and counting on Senate effort, led by Sen. Mitch McConnell, to oppose withdrawing US troops from Syria/Afghanistan.

    It's a rebuke of Trump's withdrawal plans and his declarations that ISIS has been defeated.
    12:42 PM - 31 Jan 2019

    1. The repubs, having established a tradition of co operations with the Uniparty Face of Feckless, have yet to withdraw from being added to that pustulant visage.

      MAGA now, or forever go fuck yourselves.

    2. "68 and counting" Whew, that was some kinda "heavy work" during their 3-day work week.

  6. If the Afghans can't stand up for themselves, after the money we've spent and the training we've provided, then it's time to go. Kinda like when a relative just won't give up the booze or drugs and can't/won't hold a job and provide for himself.

    Maybe we can volunteer to turn over our bases there to the Chinese. It'll keep them busy for a while.

  7. Those Afghans who want to live freely are ...
    unwilling to murder the bad guys to be free, even when they're able to.
    But the bad guys are willing to murder the freedom lovers, and have been doing so, and will likely keep doing so.

    America's anti-American Dem media will not allow America to support a murderous, pro-Free Market dictator. But that's the only kind of free market leader who can survive in Afghanistan, today.

    Countries need a free market, with people getting used to making free choices, with a limited budget, between similar but slightly different goods.

    Free markets to practice individual choice, before "democracy".