Dear President Trump,
One of the things I read this morning was the Q&A between readers and the WP authors who wrote and researched the multi-part story about the Afghanistan War. The whole Q&A piece was interesting, but it was the last line of the last answer to the last question that seriously caught my attention:
“Most people agree the only way to end the war is to cut a deal — we won’t militarily defeat the Taliban.” — Craig Whitlock
The statement caught me up short because it feels like there are some pretty awful parallels between the situation in Afghanistan with the Taliban and the one we have here between Republicans and Democrats. I know the two issues likely seem completely different, but hear me out.
First, my admittedly not very informed sense is that the Taliban are willing to engage in whatever unethical and reactive tactics are needed for them to remain a significant, powerful threat in the region. Because they are not bound by conventional fighting codes or methods, they are impossible to vanquish as long as long as they continually develop unexpected, effective tactics and they continue recruiting soldiers willing to engage in them. Next, my very much more informed sense is that you and the Republicans are willing to engage in whatever unethical and reactive cheating tactics necessary to remain in power. Because you don’t feel honor bound to play fairly, you all are impossible to vanquish as long as you continue to come up with unexpected, effective cheats and you continue to get help (including foreign) enacting them.
You know, it should be more upsetting that there are so many similarities between your GOP and the Taliban, but we’ve been trying to engage you in good faith and to logic ourselves out of this quicksand for so long that it’s actually something of a relief to lay it out this way. But what does that mean for the way forward? Does it mean we (and who is we in this situation?) have to figure out how to make some sort of deal with you (and who are you, really, in this situation?)? Does either side have any motivation for making any sort of deal?
The Taliban’s motivation for deal-making with your administration seems clear – they want us completely out of Afghanistan because the Afghani government can’t stand against them without us. Likewise, your motivation is clear (at least on the surface) – withdrawing all those troops would be a huge win for you. Laid out like this, such a US/Taliban deal largely seems to serve you and the Taliban. Yes, US troops would get to be out of harm’s way and that’s a good thing, but the Afghani people would almost certainly be hosed along with the current Afghani government since neither appear to be seriously considered by either side with seats at the negotiating table.
Back to the question of whether there’s motivation for Democrats and Republicans to cut deals, I know we’ve recently had bipartisan breakthroughs on the big trade agreement and even though I don’t like it, on the Space Force – Parental Leave bill. So some stuff is getting done, but when it comes to the fundamentals of abuse of power, obstruction, and election interference we can’t even agree on the basic facts so I don’t think there will be any deal making on this front any time soon, which is probably a good thing. Rather, I think the Democrats need to figure out how to more effectively thwart your cheating, lying ways so that you don’t end up “winning” and taking us all down.
May we be safe from bad faith actors.
May we be willing to go high when they go low.
May we consider whose health, and very lives, are at stake when we go for selfish wins.
May we hold the big picture in focus when it comes to peace.