Our government, no matter who is running it, seeks to negotiate with the Taliban while insisting that it does not negotiate with terrorists. The Taliban continues killing Americans, and Washington continues imagining the Taliban — and some parchment arrangement with the Taliban — as the way out of the mess we got ourselves into by prioritizing the impossible task of fixing Afghanistan over quelling our enemies.
President Trump is right to intuit that Americans could not care less about how Afghanistan is governed, and that what incenses many of us is the sacrifice of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars poured into the democracy project. We didn’t go looking for war; we were attacked. We have no more to do with the indigenous peoples’ determination to cling to a culture of sharia fundamentalism frozen in tenth-century time than we do with their long-ago adoption of it. Our only care about Afghanistan is that it not be permitted to become, once again, a launching pad for jihadist attacks on the United States. But that requires being there — not as an occupier or savior, but as a strike force. Since there is no other capable force motivated to protect America, we need our own troops, Special Forces, and intelligence capabilities to do the job for as long as the job takes.
That job will no doubt continue to call for killing and capturing Taliban terrorists. It will never call for inviting them to Camp David.