The cancellation of the agreement between the US government and the Taliban has nothing to do with the loss of life.
While many people expected a signed deal between the Taliban and the Trump administration in these days, the world of many Afghanistan observers, analysts and journalists was shattered over the weekend.
Unsurprisingly, the deal fell apart via the Twitter account of US President Donald Trump. On Saturday evening, during the early morning hours in Kabul, Donald Trump cancelled the ongoing peace talks with the insurgent group, including a secret meeting between him, "major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan" at Camp David on Sunday.
"They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations", Trump said.
Now for many observers it's obvious that the attack which Trump mentioned was not the real reason behind his decision. However, the reasoning warrants a closer look.
First, the "11 other people" were average Afghan civilians, people who suffer the most from the war and chaos in their country. Donald Trump has never been interested in the lives of these people. He did not just ignore the mass killing of them, he also participated in it and continues to do so.
While the Trump administration pushed for talks with the Taliban, it also reached new records in bombing Afghanistan and killing and injuring thousands of Afghan civilians. In 2018, the US military dropped more bombs on the country than at any time before.
In the first half of 2019, pro-government forces, including US soldiers and CIA-backed Afghan militias, killed more civilians than all insurgent groups put together. After Trump's Twitter comments, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that "over a 1000 Taliban" have been killed in the last ten days.
As usual, the US government is spreading these claims without offering any proof. Mostly, the victims are faceless and nameless Afghans. Already in the Obama years it was known that every military-aged male, including minors, was considered as an "enemy combatant" aka "terrorist" by the White House as long as the opposite was not proved. This doctrine has not changed and Trump himself made clear in 2017 that "nation building is over" and that "hunting and killing terrorists" has become the priority. The man in the White House does not have any moral authority when it comes to civilian casualties.
Last but not least, Trump, like others before him, proved that American lives have more value than hundreds of Afghan lives combined. It is no a secret that many Afghan civilians have been killed by both the Taliban and the US military and its Afghan allies while negotiations were taking place. Both parties made it clear that a ceasefire was not on the table yet and that attacking each other would somehow strengthen their bargaining position.
All the Afghan and coalition lives lost during negotiations did not appear worthy of respect but now that the Taliban was about to visit Camp David – loss of life is of paramount importance?
It should be underlined that for average Afghans, terror and death comes from everywhere. They do not see any difference between a suicide bombing in the middle of a big city and a murderous night raid in a remote village in Nangarhar province or elsewhere. The result of all of that is chaos, bloodshed and destruction.
When the US military and the Afghan army attack compounds in rural areas, they know that the first victims will be civilians. And when the Taliban attack an armored US vehicle in the middle of Kabul, they too know that the first victims will be Afghan civilians.
However, Donald Trump's recent Twitter rage ended with a question; "How many more decades are they willing to fight?".
In fact, that answer is simple. Out of both forces, the Taliban have the long wind while the Americans are determined to leave one day, like all the others who entered Afghanistan in previous decades or centuries. It brings to mind the old adage, "You have the watches, we have the time," – an Afghan proverb, but some Western analysts have credited it to the Taliban.
While the Taliban's political leadership was negotiating in Qatar, many of their commanders on the ground started to lose their temper. It is obvious that after Trump's decision to call off talks, their stance and distrust towards Washington will become more rigid. The Taliban called Trump's U-turn 'astonishing' and said it certainly 'damaged his credibility' .
At the same time, Kabul's political elites, who were not in favour of US talks with the Taliban from the very beginning, might be more than satisfied with the cancellation. In fact, they benefit strongly from it since it secures their own corrupt positions and the continuation of their war.
Nevertheless, it seems that these elites still do not understand the problematic nature of the US President, and that they might find themselves in a poor position again in a few weeks or months, although today, they celebrate.
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