There’s Still a Path Forward With the Taliban
President Trump is taking a lot of criticism for abruptly cancelling talks he had hoped to sponsor between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan at Camp David. But he was right to do so – his announcement sent a signal that the Taliban must demonstrate in far more concrete ways a commitment to a peaceful negotiation to end nearly two decades of war.
I say this from experience. When I headed the NATO mission in Afghanistan as supreme allied commander for all global operations from 2009-2013, I studied the Taliban closely. The movement’s name itself simply means “students” in Pashtun, and it is a movement that learned about taking and using power - enough to dominate Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Russian-backed central government before 9/11. Taliban leaders facilitated and protected al-Qaeda, and provided support in the attacks against the U.S. I found them to be tenacious, determined, resilient and utterly implacable foes who took the long view. “The Americans have all the watches, but we have all the time,” was a favorite saying.