U.S. military forces conducted an airstrike against Taliban forces on Wednesday just days after President Donald Trump announced a peace deal had been signed with the Islamist militants.
The airstrike came in response to 43 attacks committed against Afghan government soldiers. American military leaders say they have a commitment to protect their Afghan allies, and are calling on the Taliban to uphold their end of the peace deal.
Cleary, this will be a fragile peace. Should it hold, however, it will mark the end of an 18-year-long conflict — the longest in American history.
We all remember September 11, 2001 too well. After al-Qaeda’s deadly attacks against the U.S., the military deployed to Afghanistan to defeat these terrorists and remove the Taliban’s safe haven for them.
President Trump decided that it was time to end this war that has cost the lives of almost 3,000 U.S. and allied troops. It has been an expensive war, both in lives and in the more than $1 trillion spent to keep the U.S. safe and help the people of Afghanistan, who have borne the brunt of the fight in recent years.
The Trump administration thinks that the best guarantee of America’s safety is not a path of continued military means, but instead, one where our allies and Afghanistan will be safe when all Afghans lay down their weapons and comprise a political plan for their future together.
President Trump has paved the way for peace talks, and the U.S. is now in the early days of this extraordinary opportunity. On Saturday, we achieved an incredible milestone that offers a chance to finally bring the war in Afghanistan to an end with the signing of an agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban.
Obviously, the agreement is not perfect — demonstrated by the fact that the U.S. has already had to use force. It is supported by the Afghan government as well as NATO powers. At the time of signing, it was considered the best chance the U.S. has ever had to put an end to the brutal war in the Middle East.
This condition-based peace agreement is comprised of four main parts. First, it ensures Afghanistan will never be used by terrorists to launch attacks against the United States and its allies. Second, it establishes a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces, initially set to commence in the next two weeks. Third, it marked the start of intra-Afghan negotiations within 10 days. Finally, it facilitates the pursuit of a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire.
If the U.S. assess that the Taliban is staying true to the agreement, the country will reduce its military presence to 8,600 troops within the next few months. If progress continues, the U.S. and its allies will further reduce presence with a goal of zero troops in the area in 2021. If there is a lack of progress, however, the U.S. is prepared for self-defense and will suspend the draw down and agreement terms — which it has already had to do.
President Trump has made it clear that he prefers peace. It’s up to the Taliban to decide if that’s possible.