Saturday, February 29, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He gave the Taliban something in exchange for nothing.

Today, Trump announced that the United States had entered into an agreement with the Taliban. The White House called a "decisive step to achieve negotiated peace in Afghanistan."

But as even the White House press release makes clear, there appears to have been little if any negotiation. Trump agreed to a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops, essentially conceding the only leverage the United States has. In return, the Taliban conceded nothing more than a seven-day reduction in attacks against American and allied forces leading up to the agreement.

Ending the American presence in Afghanistan is legitimately popular, and something Trump campaigned on. But criticism of the agreement was swift and bipartisan, with prominent Republicans like Trump's staunchest ally in the Senate, Lindsay Graham (R-SC), and his former national security advisor John Bolton leading the charge. 

This is not the first time that Trump, who regards himself as a master dealmaker, has "negotiated" by giving away his leverage in advance. He's done it with China, North Korea, and the rest of the American government.

So what?

  • The safety and security of Americans and the United States' allies is more important than Donald Trump's political future.