The American Agreement with the Taliban Dismisses the Lessons of the Recent Past

March 4 2020

Since the United States concluded a deal with the Taliban on Saturday, the Islamist group has already carried out multiple attacks on Afghan government positions. Meanwhile, the agreement itself trades concrete steps by Washington—an immediate withdrawal of some troops, withdrawal of the rest within fourteen months, and pressure on Kabul to release 5,000 prisoners—for vague assurances from the Taliban about breaking with al-Qaeda. David French writes:

[T]he agreement released to the public provides no verification or enforcement provisions for these assurances, and once America is out of Afghanistan, our ability to enforce those promises absent a new, substantial military buildup will be limited to nonexistent. In other words, we will be placing our faith in the Taliban to help protect American national security.

The American military in Afghanistan has . . . kept America safe from any terrible repeat of [the September 11 attacks]. It has removed the Taliban from power, and denied al-Qaeda and other enemies the safe havens they need to reconstitute and re-emerge as a worldwide terrorist menace. No, we have not extinguished the Taliban, nor have we transformed Afghanistan. But we have defended our nation, and we are now defending our nation while suffering only a small fraction of the casualties (and deploying a fraction of the troops) from the height of the Afghan war.

Debates about “endless war” all too often presume that our conflicts with jihadists can end on our command. They cannot. If jihadists do not choose to lay down their arms, our best efforts to end America’s long conflict will come to naught. Indeed, our very effort to extricate ourselves from these conflicts can end up bolstering our enemies and harming our national security.

We’re forgetting the lessons of our recent past. In 2011, the Obama administration removed the last remaining military footprint from Iraq. It did so when American enemies in Iraq were far weaker than American enemies in Afghanistan. . . . Yet three years later, American forces were back. The rise of Islamic State led to killing on a mass scale and metastasized into an international terror threat. America was compelled to respond.

Read more at Time

More about: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Radical Islam, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy