Russia, the Taliban, and Trump’s Re-election

It hasn’t been very interesting recently to write about our President since he has had a remarkable and well-dissected month or so of incredible activity. The details of his escapades have been spread over the media from right to left. From his belief that the virus will go away to his insistence that he was unaware of Russia paying a bounty to the Taliban for the death of American soldiers, he has displayed his incompetence to be President. His disinterest and lies concerning the Russian situation particularly display a lack of concern for America, it’s armed forces, our standing in the world and our relationship with our allies.

On February 29th we signed a treaty with the Taliban to withdraw our troops entirely from Afghanistan with the proviso that they would not attack American troops and not support terrorism. The Afghan government was not invited to the talks. This was a few days after the intelligence about Russian bounties appeared in the President’s daily briefing. The Times reported that Trump’s officials were worried that this would negatively effect the treaty.

Most foreign service experts, Congress, and the military believe that any withdrawal to lower the American troop contingent to less than 8,000 troops would leave the Afghan government in an untenable position, making it vulnerable to a Taliban takeover. On July 1, the House Armed Services Committee voted 45 to 11 on a bipartisan amendment to the annual defense appropriation bill which would restrict funds for a troop withdrawal below 8,000. Congress has been advised, and has acted on the advice, that a lesser American force could not protect Afghanistan from a Taliban takeover, leading to the same situation which existed before 9/11 which allowed the metastasis of international terrorism and the destruction of the twin towers.

The negotiation of the Treaty was handled by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, with the assistance of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They obviously had the best current intelligence in order to strike a deal, and, as noted above, that intelligence was included in the President’s brief days before the agreement was signed. As noted in the extensive press coverage, the security agencies have stated the information was first revealed to Trump in January, (and options were then considered but not acted upon); that the National Security Agency had meetings about the situation in March and decided not to inform our allies; that the intelligence was subsequently reconfirmed and the money traced. In the period since January, it is inconceivable that the President and his administration did not use this information in negotiating the Taliban treaty, and in contemplating what actions to take against Russia.

Trump’s lies have been continuous and designed to protect his treaty and the Russians. First he said he knew nothing about Russia’s actions, then claimed the intelligence was “fake news”. That was slightly walked back when, in the face of all the gathered evidence, he opined that the intelligence was unproven and he never heard about it. Incredibly, according to him, he wasn’t even interested in asking for the latest information about the Taliban during the months when Pompeo was negotiating with them. As for the Russians, rather than punish them he has repeatedly insisted that they should be allowed to rejoin the G8 against the expressed wishes of all the members.

In the American understanding with the Taliban they pledged not to attack American soldiers, while they have continued to kill government troops. As of June 16th, according to General Frank McKenzie of Central Command, they have kept that promise. (The intelligence from numerous sources says that most of the solicitations and money paid by the Russians’ middlemen have been directed to splinter groups associated with the Taliban but not under their control.) The killers of thousands of Americans in the Mideast for eighteen years and the willing allies of the killers of 2,966 souls on 9/11 have been honorable in upholding their part of the bargain, knowing full well that the treaty is their path to seizing power.

On March 3rd Trump called the co-founder of the Taliban, Abdul Ghani Baradar, and bragged to the media afterwards that he had a “very good relationship” with him, and that Mullah Baradar also wanted an end to violence. The “good relationship” with the leader of the group that harbored Osama bin Laden and has inflicted unsparing violence against women and the systematic killing of Afghanis is not something any American could even contemplate. The dead from Taliban atrocities around the world, and in the the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, must be writhing in their graves.

It is not surprising that the President has never revealed Russia’s hit-man contract, since to do so could derail our withdrawal by focusing attention on the treaty. The removal of our troops will result in a huge benefit to Trump’s electoral prospects since it will occur in the next six months, (also against the advice of the Commanders on the ground). It’s benefit to the Russians and the Taliban will be even greater, while it will be the death knell to the US-backed Afghani government.

Once we are gone, Russia will be the most prominent foreign power in the Afghanistan at absolutely no cost in men or treasure. When our remaining 8,000 troops leave Putin will have achieved what centuries of Russian intervention has been unable to do. At the same time, his pal Donald will have the opportunity to brag that he bought our troops home (after selling out our ally.) A win-win for the oligarch and the wannabe.

While Americans have been targeted and killed by Russia’s hired mercenaries, President bone spur could care less. Nothing will get in the way of his re-election, even if it means selling out our ally against the advice of the Congress and the military, making America less safe by allowing the return of a proven terrorist state, and letting Russia put a target on the backs of our serving men and women.