This past week, President Donald Trump continued his tradition of trumpeting private proceedings before the entire world when he posted on Twitter that a planned secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban leadership had been cancelled. This weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on ABC’s This Week in an attempt to defend the administration’s position in these developments, and even as the some two-decades long struggle in Afghanistan continues, he resorted to vague platitudes, insisting that negotiators had been making “enormous progress” towards a resolution of the conflict. Yet, it continues, apparently because Trump was personally offended that the Taliban “couldn’t deliver” on their promises after the U.S. killed 1,000 of their operatives in less than two weeks.
This situation is not all about Donald Trump, yet here we are. Pompeo told host George Stephanopoulos:
‘We have just in the last ten days alone killed over 1,000 Taliban. We have been fighting and talking in a way that America often doesn’t do. It’s what’s driven us to have the success at the negotiating table that we were beginning to have, but we finally reached a point where we were close, we’d made real progress, but then the Taliban failed to live up to a series of commitments that they had made, and when that happened, President Trump said, I’m not gonna take that deal, I’m not gonna work with someone that can’t deliver on their commitments.’
BREAKING: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. had “made real progress” in peace talks, but “the Taliban failed to live up to a series of commitments,” when asked about President Trump canceling a secret meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David https://t.co/YXQEmGEJQ6 pic.twitter.com/CMKvz9tsIu
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 8, 2019
The idea that Trump was taken aback by a negotiating partner seeming unable to “deliver on their commitments” is particularly galling considering the sheer number of times Trump himself has failed to deliver on his commitments in private dealings as a businessman. The long list of times he’s refused to pay contractors or otherwise jumped ship is easily publicly available — but Trump (and Pompeo) want us to think that the president is in a position to be talking authoritatively about delivering on “commitment.” They’d no doubt like us to distance ourselves from the thought that the next stages in a long conflict that’s claimed many American lives are in the hands of a sleazy businessman’s egomania. Yet, here we are.
Before the planned meeting and surrounding peace talks collapsed, a tentative deal on the table had included the imminent withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, adding up to about half of the current U.S. presence there.
Figures like Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had spoken out against this particular proposal, insisting that the situation wasn’t stable enough to allow such a large withdrawal at this time. This weekend, Pompeo insisted that the president had not made a final decision about troops withdrawals, but they would be exploring the issue in coming days.
Trump has long stumped for the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, but like in the cases of other monumental proposals he’s rolled out, he’s been held back by the political and security realities of the situation. As it turns out, in a possible surprise to him, you can’t just write a tweet to make global politics shift.
Featured Image via screenshot