Only days after U.S. President Donald Trump triumphantly announced a big peace deal with the Taliban, the jihadis attacked an Afghan government checkpoint. The U.S. responded by launching an airstrike on those Talibs who it believed were responsible for the attack.
This happened hours after Trump personally spoke on the telephone with a Taliban negotiator to warn him that other post-deal attacks must stop. In fact, according to a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, the Taliban carried out 43 attacks on Monday alone.
READ MORE: U.S. signs peace deal with Taliban in effort to end war in Afghanistan
This bloody little tempest, which has apparently further emboldened the Taliban, was utterly predictable. It has been thus since U.S. forces threw the Taliban and their al-Qaeda backers out of power months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
The difference now is that Trump has finally decided to end the Forever War. He wants all the troops home before November’s presidential election and must claim it as some kind of victory, even though it is anything but.
What with the railway blockades and grave uncertainties arising from the global coronavirus drama, the peace deal between the White House and the jihadis responsible for the deaths of 158 Canadian soldiers has not received much attention in Canada. However, as I know from many discussions in Ottawa this week, the agreement has been closely watched by many of the tens of thousands of Canadians who served in Afghanistan.
The question being asked by Canada’s Afghan vets is how to square the deaths of 158 of their comrades with the imminent pullout of the last U.S. troops in Afghanistan without any guarantees that peace is at hand. This is something every Canadian should consider, too, as well as whether the $18 billion that Ottawa spent was worth it.
As for the deal itself, as has been widely noted, it is outrageous that the Afghan government had no representation at the negotiations, though it must cope entirely on its own with the consequences of dealing with an enemy that believes, with some reason, that it has just won a great triumph around a negotiating table after failing to win on the battlefield.
One of Trump’s diktats was that the country’s democratically elected government must release 5,000 hardcore jihadis now being held in Afghan prisons. As no good can possibly come from letting so many terrorists loose, President Ashraf Ghani rightfully says his government should have been part of such discussions.
READ MORE: Taliban resumes attacks against Afghan forces despite U.S. peace deal
Though not as much discussed, also missing from the peace talks were any of Washington’s NATO partners, though over the years they contributed several hundred thousand troops to the war. Not forgotten in NATO capitals is that many of those troops — and especially the Canadians, Brits, Danes and Estonians — ended up fighting and dying in Afghanistan after very public American appeals for help.
Still, how can Canadians condemn Trump for abandoning Afghanistan when our Parliament insisted that Canada’s combat mission in Kandahar end in 2011? In fact, all the original coalition players are still over there, albeit in greatly reduced numbers, except for Canada and France.