Question for Jen Psaki: Is it still U.S. policy that we don't negotiate with terrorists?

The truthful answer is, “We’re not negotiating with the Taliban. We’re taking orders from them.”


Psaki can’t give the truthful answer but she does skirt around it. The Taliban’s in charge of Afghanistan, she notes. Our options are either meeting their demands or resuming hostilities. And the whole point of this fiasco of a withdrawal is that Americans desperately want to end hostilities.

I’m surprised she didn’t seize on the obvious retort that was sitting there. “The reason we’re in the predicament we’re in, Peter, is that your network’s favorite president thought it was fine to negotiate with terrorists. And did a terrible job of it, by the way.”

Here’s a more noteworthy answer from today’s presser. I wrote this morning that it’s increasingly clear the administration is hoping to rely on the Taliban to complete our evacuation for us. Maybe we’ll have all Americans out by next Tuesday, maybe we won’t. We certainly won’t have all of our Afghan friendlies out. So how do we get them over here? Psaki was asked if the White House is expecting to coordinate with the jihadis to let SIV-holders depart once we’re gone.

It’s possible, she said:


These comments by Tony Blinken also hint at a Taliban role in evacuations. The U.S. will continue to work on getting everyone out after the deadline, he says. What he doesn’t say is that American troops will be the ones handling that:

If we can’t trust our Taliban partners in peace, who can we trust?

I assume the amount of the bribe we’re going to give them is being negotiated as we speak — or that it would be negotiated if we negotiated with terrorists, which we certainly don’t do. In the meantime, the U.S. and its allies are trying other means to get people out, fearing that the g-ddamned Taliban ultimately might not keep any promises it makes about ensuring safe passage:

The CIA has launched clandestine operations to rescue Americans in and outside of Kabul in recent days, according to U.S. and other officials. Those operations are using American military helicopters but under the operation and control of the CIA, a typical arrangement in such operations.

The missions are in conjunction with a more limited effort by the U.S. military to rescue Americans stranded inside the city.

The air and ground operations are considered perilous under the current circumstances in the country as the U.S. has begun to assign priority on evacuating Americans over Afghans who are at risk. Those include the many thousands of Afghan interpreters and others who worked for the U.S. government but remain inside the country and face retribution from the Taliban.

The Pentagon has said it is coordinating with the Taliban on airport security, but it’s unclear if those discussions also included extraction missions.


The UK’s defense secretary had to resort today to advising stranded Afghans to make a run for the border rather than wait for evacuation by the Brits, who have few seats left on flights departing before the deadline. Turns out many of them have already thought of that. It’s not going great:

Kabul airport is the tip of the iceberg of the coming refugee crisis, assuming the Taliban and its neighbors don’t succeed in sealing all borders.

Biden did get some good polling news today, though. If a question like this at a moment as humiliating as the one we’re experiencing can’t flip Americans against withdrawal, nothing can:

Americans really, really want out. Maybe the White House was onto something when insiders started chattering that this debacle will actually strengthen the case in the public’s mind for leaving at all costs.


I leave you with a question from Charles Cooke: Why do Blinken and other administration mouthpieces keep referring to Americans “who want to leave” as people they’re trying to evacuate? Everyone assumes that all Americans over there want to come home. Why the qualification? Is the White House planning to blame those left behind for their own abandonment, asserting that they wanted to stay?

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 23, 2024