Verify Then Trust

Many politicians, even within his own party, have been critical of President Trump for offering to meet with Taliban leaders at Camp David, Maryland.  This president has shown an unprecedented willingness to meet with any world leaders, regardless of their ideology, if it could result in a more peaceful world.  In this particular case it could allow the withdrawal of American (and allied) forces from Afghanistan and end a war that has continued for the past 18 years.  Our previous Secretary of Defense General “Mad Dog” Mattis made a comment that we must keep in mind when dealing with adversaries such as the Taliban, “verify, then trust.”  The Taliban are a political and military organization that brutally enforces fundamentalist Sharia law on civilians under their control.  At one time they held control of over 75% of Afghanistan.  After 9/11 when America and our allies went after terrorist strongholds in the country, that control dwindled.  They are currently waging an insurgency or jihad (holy war) to retake much of the country from the Afghan government.  Understanding the Taliban’s influence and role in Afghanistan’s insurgency, members of the Trump Administration have been in peace negotiations with them in Qatar.  These negotiations were already stalling, largely due to the fact that the Afghan government did not like the current proposal.  The secretive Camp David scheme was likely the President’s effort to use his personal influence to expedite the process to a final resolution.  My sentiments agree with those of many others:  I do not want known potential terrorists on sacred American soil under ANY circumstances.  At least the President wants to give it one last shot.  I remember an old expression from the 1960s when I first entered college; “Give peace a chance.”

Most Americans want us out of a costly (in terms of money and human lives) endless war.  But on the anniversary of 9/11 we don’t want to suffer another similar tragedy either.  We can safely withdraw many of our ground forces from Afghanistan, leaving a residual “strike force” of around 5000 special forces.  With satellite and drone support, much of our intelligence gathering can be performed at a safe distance.  Islamic terrorists hate America and the freedoms we represent.  Under Taliban rule women and other undesirables are mistreated and often killed.  To these Islamic extremists our American values are a threat that must be destroyed.  We can never eliminate terrorist activity altogether since planning and coordinating these attacks is now decentralized and difficult to detect.  Through a combination of domestic and international surveillance and civilian vigilance we can prevent major terrorist strikes in the future.

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