On Twitter, Trump explained that he canceled talks planned for Sunday after learning of the Taliban’s responsibility for an attack in Kabul this week. The attack killed 12 people, including an American soldier. While it is not clear why Trump waited until Saturday evening to cancel the talks (the attack occurred on Thursday and the Taliban’s responsibility was clear) it is likely a result of last-minute pushing from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Regardless, Trump made the right call. The Taliban proved they are currently unwilling to negotiate seriously. In turn, the group must know that the president won’t sacrifice America’s security and its allies for a campaign narrative. Trump’s decision, in the context of a tough reelection fight, thus stands in stark contrast with President Barack Obama’s 2011 withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
This does not, however, change the crucial importance of diplomacy in Afghanistan.