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Afghanistan

If Trump’s Cancelled Meeting with the Taliban Makes You Angry…

by D.J. McGuire

If you saw the President tweet about his plans to meet with the Taliban at Camp David and it angered you, that meant you recognized the Taliban as the enemy. That’s a good thing.

If you marveled at his naiveté in thinking we could make peace with the shelterers and allies of al Qaeda, than you and I are in agreement here. That’s a good thing.

If you responded to this by insisting – to yourself or to anyone else – “But the Taliban are terrorists” – then you recognize that they must be defeated, period. That is a good thing.

If you accept the logical conclusion that we cannot truly negotiate with the Taliban and expect anything but a complete de facto surrender to them, then you recognize we need to recommit to defeating them and bringing Afghanistan permanently into the democratic world. That isn’t simple, but it is a good thing.

If you recognize that we need to bring Afghanistan permanently into the democratic world, then you recognize we need to acknowledge our mistakes (letting Hamid Karzai steal the 2009 election is one of the big political ones). That, too, is a good thing.

If you recognize that the Taliban are a tough enemy, then you accept that the war against them must continue – its current length notwithstanding – until they are defeated. That may be difficult to accept, but it is also a good thing.

If, by contrast, you cannot bring yourself to accept that commitment – if you’d rather the war just “end” – then Trump inviting the Taliban to Washington to sign a “peace” deal is the inevitable alternative. That is not a good thing.

If, however, you are ready to accept the hard truth from which your outrage flows – that defeating the Taliban and liberating Afghanistan are right and necessary things to do – then you must ensure both the president and his would-be Democratic challengers know it, too. You must make clear that any promise to “end the war” without winning it is, in fact, losing it. You must remind Biden, Sanders, Warren, et al, that any claim to be the antithesis of Donald Trump is badly undermined if they agree with his isolationism in Afghanistan, and that would not be a good thing.

If you really, truly, are upset by what the president nearly did, you will want to make sure neither he nor his successor try to do it again, for that would not be a good thing at all.

If that anger, disappointment, and frustration are still with you, then you know the war in Afghanistan must be won rather than ended. That won’t be easy, but it is a good thing.

D.J. McGuire – a self-described progressive conservative – has been part of the More Perfect Union Podcast since 2015. He is also a contributor to Bearing Drift.

Appeasing the Taliban Is a Bad Idea

by D.J. McGuire

I understand that there are very few of us left who still place a priority on defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan. I further understand that none of those few are anywhere near the president. That doesn’t change the fact that the president and those who are near him are wrong to be entering an agreement with the Taliban that the latter will almost certainly break in the re-conquest of the country if – and, sadly, when – American troops leave.

Trump himself announced in his latest State of the Union that he wanted out of Afghanistan. He used the common – albeit understandable – trope of timing (Politico): “We do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.”

He went off the rails, however, with this assertion: “And the other side would like to do the same thing.”

The “other side,” of course, is the Taliban: the shelterers of Osama bin Laden, allies of his al Qaeda, and de factojailers of the Afghan people from 1996 to 2001. Much of rural Afghanistan still suffers under their reign.

Many isolationists and realists will insist that last part is not really relevant. They will say how a regime treats its own people shouldn’t matter. They couldn’t be more wrong. Tyrannical regimes have always chafed by comparison with the United States and its fellow democracies. In the 21st Century, they have found it easier to team up against us and – in the case of Vladimir Putin – attack our democracy itself. Allowing the tyrants another victory – even a small one – is deeply unwise absent a major benefit to American interests.

Moreover, the developing “deal” with the Taliban not only provides no such benefit, but is based on a ridiculous lie, as Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio noted in Politico.

As the United Nations Security Council found in two recent reports, al-Qaida and the Taliban remain “closely allied” and their “long-standing” relationship “remains firm.” Al-Qaida’s leaders still view Afghanistan as a “safe haven,” and their men act like a force multiplier for the insurgency, offering military and religious instruction to Taliban fighters. Indeed, al-Qaida is operating across multiple Afghan provinces, including in areas dominated by the Taliban.

In short, any claim that the Taliban has ended or will end its alliance with al Qaeda is folly. The perpetrators of the 9/11 attack are just as tied to the Taliban now as then. Any “deal” would be as useless as the Munich 1938 deal.

I suspect none of that matters to the Administration. They are far more interested in ending the war than in winning it – a mistaken view that is certainly not limited to the president, or to his faction, or even to his party. America isn’t used to long wars. It’s lone experience with them in the 20th century was Vietnam. Yet both there and in Afghanistan, the assumption that a war could be limited only limited the prospect for victory. The Taliban still think America can be beaten. They’re looking increasingly correct.

The long-term affect for America could be devastating. The alliance that launched the most deadly attack on American soil could end up in exactly the same position a mere two decades after the attack. The message would be unmistakable: the United States is no longer willing to defeat its enemies, no matter how badly those enemies strike.

Or, as a certain president remarked: “We don’t win anymore.”

I’m not saying it will be easy to defeat the Taliban; I’m not saying it will be quick. I’m not even saying that military force is the only tool to use; in time, it may not even be an efficient one. I am saying that the Taliban is not a partner in peace, but an enemy, and that our priority must be defeating them – for the sake of Afghanistan, for our sake, and for the sake of everyone in between.

D.J. McGuire – a self-described progressive conservative – has been part of the More Perfect Union Podcast since 2015. He is also a contributor to Bearing Drift.

You Just Might Be a Nazi (Ep. 114)

On this episode of The More Perfect Union podcast, the gang talks about rise of Nazis on the streets of America, the ousting of Steve Bannon from Pennsylvania Avenue, continuing dysfunction in the Trump Administration, and what the new Afghanistan war policy may be.

Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a podcast! 

And if you like talking politics, join us in our Facebook political debate group, OPEN FIRE, where you can discuss news and politics with Kevin, D.J., Greg, Rebekah, Cliff, Molly, Helena, and lots of other smart, fun people.

Mother Of All Bombs (Ep. 92)

Episode 92 of The More Perfect Union podcast looks at Trump’s potential plays in Syria, Korea, and the Fed. (And which one he’s likely to nuke first.) Then the gang has some laughs over Sean Spicer’s most recent verbal gaffes and shares their thoughts on the airline industry in light of the United Airlines passenger ejection assault.

Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a podcast! 

And if you like talking politics, join us in our Facebook political debate group, OPEN FIRE, where you can discuss news and politics with Kevin, D.J., Greg, Rebekah, Cliff, Molly, Helena, and lots of other smart, fun people.