Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

A Sad American First: Two Years After Trump Negotiated with Terrorist Taliban

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, August 15, 2022

Once, a long time ago… (Isn’t that how fairy tales start out?)

Two years is almost like forever when it comes to matters politick. But it should be noted, that the overall conditions for diplomatic talks with international terrorists is a definite first in American history. Just as much as having a POTUS work against you by every boastfully callous public remark he makes. Never before has the Department of State and the Office of the President been at odds with one another.

That is, until that maladministration of Mr. I-know-more-than-the-generals-do.

And, it’s mostly true that each new administration has some degree of “learning curve” to move beyond the lingering effects of the prior administration.

And in this case, it was two years.

No one drives forward while gazing in the rear-view mirror.

That’s NOT what rear-view mirrors are for.

Rear-view mirrors enable drivers to briefly scan behind them to see if there’s anything of which they need to be aware. Is a rapidly-approaching vehicle in your lane of travel, or not? Is an emergency services vehicle needing right-of-way? In short, rear view mirrors enable drivers to be alert for changes they may need to make in response to activity behind them.

And in a very similar manner, that’s the purpose of a retrospective — to determine what was good, and what could have been better.

It’s been two years since the Biden administration began. There’ve been some hiccups, some failures, and now, there are signs of success. But it’s taken two years just to get out of the mess the previous administration made and left for the next.

So, how accurate is that remark?

Let’s look in the rear-view mirror!

In an article published November 18, 2020 in The Diplomat, freelance journalist Sohrab Azad, who covers Afghanistan, is based in Erbil, Iraq, and founder of Advocates for a Prosperous Afghanistan, an advocacy group in Washington, DC, wrote in part, that,

“Lastly, the U.N. and the Pentagon reported that the Taliban have frequently met with al-Qaida during their negotiations with the U.S. to reaffirm the group that their relationship will continue, indicating how embedded the terrorist networks are within each other. The Taliban’s commitment to sever ties with terrorist organizations is a condition that must be met for U.S. withdrawal, per the February 2020 agreement. Trump’s lack of strategic shift based on his own Pentagon’s reports exposes his narrow focus on withdrawal no matter what.

“….Trump administration has reduced troops based on political objectives and not in accordance with the reality on the ground.”

“The abrupt exit of the Americans fits the Taliban’s narrative perfectly and gives them no reason not to attack Kabul, leaving no room for a joint government.”

The Taliban have utilized the negotiations with the U.S. and the talks in Doha as a theatrical statement to the rest of the world. They have gained the recognition of international powers and displayed their military and diplomatic might to show how they ousted the Americans and brought a U.S.-backed government to the table in a weak position.
See: https://thediplomat.com/2020/11/how-the-trump-administration-set-afghanistan-up-to-fail/

So we see, then, that the previous administration deliberately negotiated into the hands of the Taliban.

Not good.

On top of that, the promises that administration made to the Taliban were reneged upon.

Good, bad, or indifferent, that’s what happened.

Also says John Bolton, former National Security Advisor to then-POTUS Trump from 2018-19.

In an interview with the far-right, hyper-partisan group NewsMax host Eric Bolling on Friday, 11 August 2022, Mr. Bolton said in part that as President, Trump,

didn’t understand, fundamentally, much of anything about international affairs. His decisions were not based on a coherent philosophy or coherent policy. They were erratic. Under Donald Trump, he signed a deal with the Taliban… He cut a deal with the Taliban to withdraw from Afghanistan. Did that make us safer, Eric? Did withdrawing from Afghanistan make us safer? Right. [sarcasm] The deal cut us down to zero. [Reduced the presence of American military forces] That’s what Trump wanted. He wanted everybody out. The record on that is completely clear.”

Among Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to end the Afghanistan war. And in 2020, he negotiated an agreement with the Taliban terrorists to withdraw all U.S. military forces by May 1, 2021. But one of, if not THE main problems, was that the Afghan government was not represented, and completely left out of that agreement.

On March 4, 2021, Dexter Filkins, a journalist who writes for The New Yorker, and specializes in Middle East and Afghanistan matters, spoke with Terry Gross, host of “Fresh Air,” in-depth interview program with news-makers, which airs on NPR. In part, Mr, Filkins said that,

“And, of course, the Taliban — the guys they’re sitting across from at the table — you know, these guys were deemed terrorists, you know? And they… these are the guys that gave sanctuary to Osama bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks. And so, these are people that we didn’t even acknowledge. We didn’t acknowledge their legitimacy. And, you know, we’re actively trying to kill them. And now, we’re sitting across the table from them.

“And the other thing that was very pretty unconventional about the way that this negotiation happened was the U.S. diplomats are trying to negotiate a kind of a schedule for a withdrawal. And, you know, there’s a certain amount of bluffing involved, which is if we don’t get the deal we want, we’re not going to pull out. But while they were doing that over the course of 2019 and early 2020, President Trump was just kind of unilaterally announcing these troop withdrawals. I’m going to pull everybody out, or I’m going to – we’re going to go down to 7,000 troops starting now. And he didn’t consult anybody and didn’t even necessarily tell his negotiators that he was doing that. So he was like literally kind of taking their sticks away from them at the table as they were doing this.

“And so the whole thing was kind of unconventional, but there’s an agreement. It was signed in February of last year, February 2020. And it says that the United States will pull out all of its forces by May 1. And what’s remarkable about it is that since February 2020, no American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. So the Taliban have, in fact, held to their word.”

Read that again: “So the Taliban have, in fact, held to their word.”

The United States did not.

Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, boards a C-17 cargo plane at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on 08.30.2021. Maj. Gen. Donahue is the final American service member to depart Afghanistan; his departure closes the U.S. mission to evacuate American citizens, Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and vulnerable Afghans. (U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Alex Burnett)

POTUS BIDEN delayed the agreement Trump administration officials negotiated with Taliban terrorists by 4 months, and the final American soldier to depart Afghanistan — Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps — did so on 30 August 2021 by boarding a C-17 cargo plane.

Also consider this: The United States was negotiating with a known international terrorist organization.

The United States has NEVER negotiated with terrorists.

See this transcript from 2013 to attest to that:
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR, Aired January 18, 2013 – 19:00 ET

VICTORIA NULAND, SPOKESWOMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: The United States does not negotiate with terrorists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you expect Algeria to —

NULAND: We do not negotiate with terrorists. We’re obviously in consultations with the Algerians.


And, in an entry posted on February 26, 2021, The Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs (“JLIA”), a student-edited, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal, jointly published by Penn State Law and School of International Affairs, Imane Guissé wrote in part that, “The adoption of a “no-concessions with terrorists” policy by the United States of America in 1973 reflected the fears of the larger international community that any concessions would incentivize and legitimize terrorist activity. The translation of this policy over time has evolved to the false narrative that the US has a “non-negotiation” policy.”

Further, in the The London Economic 25 August 2014 at 17:22, Joe Mellor wrote in part that,

“The USA does not make concessions to terrorists.

“This policy approach to hostage situations, shared by the United States and the United Kingdom, is in opposition to European countries, who have routinely made, or at least facilitated, the payment of ransoms to secure the release of their citizens. A recent investigation by The New York Times revealed that at least $125 million in ransom payments have been paid to Al Qaeda and affiliates since 2008. Whilst publicly denied by European governments, these ransom payments are usually written off as foreign aid, or facilitated through the use of intermediary companies (such as the state-owned French nuclear giant Areva) in order to distance the governments from the flow of cash. In fact, for Al Qaeda, the abduction of Europeans for ransom has become a global business and a major source of income. Nasser al-Wuhayshi, Al Qaeda leader in the Arabian Peninsula, explained in The Times, ‘kidnapping hostages is an easy spoil, which I may describe as a profitable trade and a precious treasure.’

“The justification for not negotiating with terrorists is simple: the anathema of a healthy democracy is violence, so terrorists must never be rewarded for its use. To negotiate with terrorists is to give legitimacy to their cause; to allow them to dictate foreign policy; to simultaneously undermine political negotiations and destabilise governments. Crucially: negotiations with terrorists create a dangerous precedent.”

The United States does not negotiate with terrorists… until they do.

Writing for Foreign Policy Magazine on June 3, 2014, 8:33PM, Simon Engler reminded readers that British civilian Peter Moore had been held hostage, then released by Iraqi militants after American authorities agreed to set free Qais al-Khazali, a former spokesman for influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Mr. Moore was kidnapped in 2007 in Baghdad after Shiite militiamen ambushed his bodyguards, and him. Qais al-Khazali was implicated in the killing of five American soldiers in Karbala. And by January 2010, Khazali and Moore both walked free.

In 2015, in the Editor’s Note on a foreign policy essay for Lawfare Blog on Sunday, August 16, 10:53AM by Clint Watts — a Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Senior Fellow at the George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, former U.S. Army officer, and FBI Special Agent, who worked with the Combating Terrorism Center at United States Military Academy at West Point — wrote that “even hardline counterterrorist countries like Israel have at times recognized the need to cut a deal with their enemies. This issue has come up again and again for the United States, particularly as it searches for allies in Syria.”

Mr. Watts wrote in part that,

“In July, President Obama dropped a policy bombshell, announcing that the U.S. government would communicate and negotiate with hostage takers—many of whom today happen to be terrorists. Negotiating with terrorists over kidnappings remains a tactical exchange, one that does not significantly alter the broader conflict between the two parties. At the strategic level, the United States remains staunchly in the macho mantra of “We’ll never negotiate with terrorists!””

On August 29, 2016, Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District Representative Tom Cole (R), who has represented the district since 2003, wrote in part that, “It has been a longstanding policy of the United States that we will not negotiate with terrorists and we will not pay ransom money to free hostages. The reasons for this policy are obvious; paying ransoms incentivizes the taking of more hostages. U.S. presidents for decades have recognized this policy and adhered to it – until this president.” Mr. Cole’s use of “this president” would be in reference to Barack Obama.

Not only that, but while this most unconventional “negotiation” was ongoing, the President was saying something completely different from what U.S. Diplomats were saying. There was a functional disconnection, a dysfunction, between the chief executive, and his employees, and by his public words, was undermining their efforts.

It’s like a Snickers® candy bar — no matter how you slice it, it comes up peanuts.

And that’s NOT good.

It’s a sign of organizational disarray.

In the Fresh Air interview, Mr. Filkins described how the Taliban, in a traditionally-Communist manner, was deliberately assassinating the educated members of society, governmental officials, and others critical to advancement of the people, those who worked toward liberty, independence, and self-governance in Afghanistan, and said further that,

“It’s not part of the deal, and it’s a terrible situation. It’s a terrible situation. And it’s difficult not to conclude, when you stand back and look at it, that the real purpose of this agreement, and I think President Trump even said this, was just get out. The U.S. is going to get out and leave the Afghan government and the Taliban to each other, which I think almost certainly means a lot more violence and probably something like civil war. But that’s what’s – that’s the kind of subtext for all this.

“So the Taliban… the leaders are sitting at the table, and they’re negotiating with the Afghan government right now about some kind of peace deal, you know, cease-fire or some kind of interim government, the thing that’s supposed to end the war. But at the same time they’re doing that, they’ve launched this very aggressive assassination campaign, which is basically targeting the elites and the educated classes, the people and the women — the people who have benefited most and the people who have really stepped to the fore since 9/11. It’s the 9/11 generation, the post-2001 generation, which, basically, the United States has enabled. And so it’s educated people. It’s women. It’s women’s rights activists. It’s people with master’s degrees and Ph.D.s. And they’re targeting them — judges, lawyers, journalists, aid workers — one after the other. So I think we’re at pretty close to 500 assassinations since the peace agreement was signed.

“And just yesterday, for instance, in Jalalabad, which is a city east of Kabul, three women journalists were killed, were murdered – three young women. And that, to me, is – that’s emblematic. I mean, these are – they’re women in a country that is – doesn’t really recognize – fully recognize women’s rights. And they’re kind of out there, and they’re risking their lives, and they’re, you know, fighting the good fight. And three of them just got killed, almost certainly by the Taliban.

“So, that’s what’s happening. So I think if you… if we stand back and we look at these negotiations, these peace talks, we think, ‘OK, it’s a race. Are they going to make a deal or is it… or is the Afghan state going to collapse first before this Taliban onslaught?’ And that’s what’s so kind of disturbing about the whole thing.

“The Biden administration inherited all this, right? So they inherited the war, and then they inherited this May 1 pullout date, which is the United States will withdraw all of its forces by May 1. What do they do? And so there — this entire thing, these — this set of really impossible choices, it was just there, left for them, left waiting for them when they came into the White House.

“So Biden has to decide what he’s going to do ’cause the date is rapidly approaching when the U.S. is supposed to go to zero. And, really, we’re kind of at that point right now. If the U.S. doesn’t start packing — literally packing up — they’re not going to be able to get out of there by May 1. So they… Biden needs to make a decision right away.

“And I think… I was in a room with an intelligence officer that was briefing some American soldiers. And she said, look; if we’re still here after May 1, and we might be, it’s game on. You know, the… you can expect the Taliban to start coming after Americans again. So the war goes back. The war comes back on May 1 if we’re still there.”

Amidst this backdrop of a carnival-barker-like executive narcissistically dominating and confusion-making lay a fundamentally conniving, liar, and cheater. As Evangelicals simply weren’t concerned one iota, and excused his philanderous behavior, they chalked it up to some sort of “experience,” or excused it as “locker-room talk.” For whatever reason, they were led astray by one who is not at all bashful about being a egocentric wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing who justifies all his actions as though god-like.

And then, the November General Election occurred, and the Congress was attacked at the Capitol building January 6, 2020, as Congress was preparing the official count of Presidential Electors.

To borrow the lyrics of The Grateful Dead’s now-late Jerry Garcia, “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

American foreign policy has been an abysmal disaster for well over 50 years, and likely even longer. Perhaps the last time American foreign policy was worth a hoot in hell was during the FDR administration, when men of integrity like Cordell Hull — the nation’s longest-serving Secretary of State (1933-1944), a Tennessee Democrat, Congressional Representative then Senator, Nobel Peace Prize-winning “Father of the United Nations” (an international peace treaty organization, in essence) — ran the Department of State as a genuine statesman, rather than as an errand boy for the CIA, and Presidential lap dog.

John Foster Dulles may have been the progenitor for such change from a diplomatic one to a pseudo-military one, insofar as his brother Allen was CIA Director, and John’s own vitriolic anti-communist rhetoric was a defining characteristic of his acerbic time in office from 1953-59, in combination with the fact that POTUS Eisenhower was quite satisfied with his work. As now-late Southern musician Gil Scott-Heron once sang in his 1981 song “B-Movie,” “This country has been surprised by the way the world looks now. They don’t know if they want to be Matt Dillon or Bob Dylan. They don’t know if they want to be diplomats or continue the same policy — of nuclear nightmare diplomacy. John Foster Dulles ain’t nothing but the name of an airport now.”

The Department of State has become, in large part, a repository of spies, of international espionage, war planning, and practically every other activity other than making peace, and advancement of the human race among suffering people in downtrodden nations who, like everyone else on Earth, only want to do better for themselves. The agency has been proverbially “looking to get on over on” other nations, particularly adversarial or developing nations, rather than to lift them up with humanitarian aid, and cultivate peace, and enduring friendships in the process.

Americans’ inordinate focus upon themselves to the detriment of others has been a significant part of the downfall of confidence in American diplomatic efforts among developing, and adversarial nations. The damage has been done. The question is, can it be undone? Are we willing? Do we have the courage to do the difficult work of diplomacy that yields peaceful fruits?

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