National Security

Taliban Talks Will Continue Soon, If Only in Secret

The president said yesterday that peace talks with the Taliban over ending the war in Afghanistan are “dead” after the terrorist group staged a bombing in Kabul last week that resulted in the death of a U.S. soldier.

And those talks may have been “dead” at the exact moment the president said it and perhaps for minutes afterwards. But soon enough, they will continue in a discrete form.

How do I know this? Do I have internal White House sources or a man in the know? Is my crystal ball operating in rare form? Kinda.

My internal sources are the words and actions of the president himself. My man in the know is the business record of Trump himself. Crystal ball? History itself.

Donald Trump has said more than once, and anyway it’s a negotiating truism, that you never sit down to cut a deal you’re not willing to walk away from if you don’t get what you want. Reagan did it at Reykjavik. However, like Trump, he knew he was just setting up a better deal in a short span of time. Leaving the table for a moment is just to remind the other guys you’re serious and that they need you more than you need them.

What does the president want? He wants and needs the Taliban to behave for a time while we disengage. That means no bombings or otherwise deadly moves against our forces. Publicly, as opposed to privately, walking away, perhaps with an upcoming hard strike at the Taliban, will serve to expedite the successful execution of that goal.

Nixon’s December 1972 bombing of Hanoi, Operation Linebacker II, is a case in point. When the deal over ending the Vietnam War was close but the North Vietnamese were haggling over small details, Nixon walked away for a short time and used the pause to plaster the commies with B-52-delivered holiday joy.

Merry Christmas, Hanoi.

They were soon back at it and an agreement to get us out and to save face until our allies lost the war, just like in this scenario, happened in a couple of months. When you look not only at the president’s political negotiating stances, but also especially the way he ran his business, his strategy becomes clear. This is a move he’s used before in NYC real estate wars. He usually won there too.

Though, define win.

A win here is declaring a victory next year in the middle of the political season and getting an assurance from the Taliban that we’ll be allowed to leave peacefully. Then, after a “decent interval,” the Paks and the Iranians will move in and fight for turf. One of them will win, make Afghanistan a rambunctious satrapy, and we will have had clean hands for a couple of years already.

A cynical sellout? Men and treasure spent for nothing permanent? A cover-your-ass deal that only postpones strategic defeat?

Well, of course it is.

Welcome to geopolitics.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
David Kamioner

A veteran of service with US Army Intelligence, the Pershing Nuclear Brigade, and the First Infantry Division, Kamioner is a graduate of the University of Maryland’s European Division and spent over twenty years as a political consultant, college instructor, non-profit director, and corporate PR director. He hails from New York City and grew up in South Florida. He served with the American Red Cross as part of the relief effort for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. For several years he ran homeless shelters, most recently homeless shelters for US military veterans. He currently is a Senior Contributor for OpsLens.com, a writer for American Greatness, and has been published in LifeZette. He is the author of the novel "Prisoner of the Chattering Class" and lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

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