The U.S. has commenced negotiations with the Taliban. The Afghan government is excluded from the talks, which I consider a disgrace.
The U.S. has proved to be a worse than feckless partner. Why any state or group would ever again cast its lot with America, where there are other options, is beyond me.
Quite apart from the exclusion of the Afghan government, the negotiations strike me as a classic case of “lose-lose” as far as the United States is concerned. The Taliban has no good reason to negotiate seriously with us. It knows that most of our troops will be going home soon and that, therefore, its prospects for winning a military victory are good.
Under these circumstances, the Taliban cannot be expected to make concessions. Thus, the likely outcome is “no deal.” This is a loss for the U.S. because we will have gone to the Taliban, hat-in-hand and over the objections of our partner in the fight, and received nothing in return.
But because our negotiating position is so weak, a deal would be even worse. God only knows what concessions we need to make to obtain a deal from such a position. And whatever those concessions are, a deal would describe the terms of our defeat for all the world to ridicule.
I’m not cynical enough to believe that this is what President Obama wants, but the thought has crossed my mind.
Having determined that the U.S. shall lose this war, Obama’s best option is to have America go home as quietly as possible.