Trump-Taliban schmooze: don't call it 'peace'
The utterly surreal news that Taliban leaders were invited to Camp David—a week before the 9-11 commemoration, no less!—will further fuel the perverse fantasy that Trump is a hippie pacifist. So it is almost comforting that the meeting was axed, and on the 9-11 commemoration in Washington, Trump was back to his blustering, bellicose self. "The last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before, and that will continue," he boasted. The Taliban responded in kind, releasing a statement saying that Trump "will soon regret" cancelling the peace talks. (Khaama Press, CBS)
An opinion piece on Afghanistan's Khaama Press warning that a "bad deal with Taliban will throw Afghanistan into the pyre," reminds us of what the actual conditions for the now seemingly aborted "peace" deal actually were:
First, cancellation of presidential elections and formation of an "interim government." So this means that whatever semblance of a democratic process the Afghans have managed build (and recall that the country's parliament is more than one quarter women) is to be abrogated in some kind of power-sharing arrangement with theocrats who wish to impose their medieval-minded interpretation of sharia law.
Second, withdrawal of US troops within two years. It is unclear if this also means cessation of US air-srtikes. Third, assurance from the Taliban that Afghan territory will not be used for attacking US interests. Which is rather the critical point here—from the standpoint of "US interests."
And finally, direct talks between Taliban and Afghan officials. Which has still not happened—although they did finally meet face-to-face in Doha in July, if briefly. So the only people who actually have any semblance of accountability to the Afghan people have been iced from the entire process.
As Politico reports, Trump's decision to sack National Security Advisor John Bolton came after widespread reports that Bolton tried to put the kibosh on the Camp David meeting. This will also deepen the Trump-as-peacenik pathology.
There is nothing to cheer here. This is chucking Afghan women and Shi'ites overboard in the name of a "peace" crafted with no semblance of democracy or popular participation—with Afghanistan's fate to be decided by genocidal clerical-reactionaries and imperialists. (As NPR noted in a report earlier this year, Afghan women and their advocates have been protesting this farcical "peace" process.)
And we suspect that what's really at issue here for Washington is the emergence of an ISIS franchise in Afghanistan. So a domesticated Taliban can be granted their sharia tyranny if they cut their ties to al-Qaeda and fight ISIS (which they have been doing anyway). Because ISIS are now the "bad" (undomesticated) clerical reactionaries, who will not abandon their ambitions to attack the West. This only sends the message (entirely accurate, from the imperial perspective) that Western lives matter, and Afghan lives do not.
We recall yet again the old anarchist slogan: "Neither your war nor your peace."