The Corner


Here Comes the American Deal with the Taliban

U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad speaks during a debate in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 28, 2019. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

On Monday, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, told Afghanistan reporters that American negotiators had reached “an agreement in principle” with the Taliban, a proposal that would have the U.S. pull troops from five bases across Afghanistan within 135 days, as long as the Taliban meets conditions set in the agreement, including no longer cooperating with al-Qaeda.

“We have reached an agreement with the Taliban in principle, but of course until the U.S. president agrees with it, it isn’t final,” Khalilzad said.

The Taliban marked the agreement in principle by blowing up a bomb in Kabul, killing at least five people and injuring at least 50, while Khalilzad was speaking with reporters. These bastards couldn’t even wait until the press conference ended to get back to their old habits.

Last month, Andy McCarthy wrote, “No matter how deft the diplomacy that papers over a pullout, wars are either won or lost. For years, the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies have vowed to outlast us and drive us out. Now, we’re getting ready to leave and they are getting ready to rule. What would you call that?”

In January, David French wrote, “If American forces leave in the face only of an empty pledge not to permit safe havens, a temporary cease-fire, and an agreement that the Taliban merely speak to the Afghan government, then the Trump administration will enhance jihadist prestige immeasurably. Insurgents will be able to make a plausible claim to have chased the Americans out of Afghanistan. They’ll have a plausible claim that jihadists have defeated a second superpower — first the Soviets and now the Americans.”

If the “agreement in principle” moves forward, the Democratic presidential candidates are unlikely to loudly disagree. Beto O’Rourke promised that all U.S. troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of his first term. Pete Buttigieg pledged to get all troops out of Afghanistan by the end of his first year in office. Bernie Sanders declared, “there are probably more terrorists out there now than before it began.”

There is no significant constituency in favor of a continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan; there’s a broad public consensus that the American military has done all it can do. The public sees no major threat from Afghanistan, or at least none that could justify the continued presence of thousands of American troops.

Then again, the public saw no major threat from Afghanistan before 9/11, either.

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