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.

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Read more at Time

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

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy