Dec 03, 2019 / 07:55

Trump's Miscalculations

The Hanoitimes - Trump is now eager to expeditiously reach a peace agreement with the Taliban and, at the same time, about to commit other miscalculation on them.

While the American people were celebrating Thanksgiving, their president made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan. Last year, he did the same in Iraq. Many of his predecessors made such impromptu visits to US troops abroad for publicity. Therefore, it was not Trump's unexpected journey to Afghanistan but his statements there that attracted worldwide attention. In fact, his two statements.

 US President Donald Trump. Photo: WSJ

First, Trump announced peace talks resumption with the Taliban. And second, he declared Taliban's acceptance of a ceasefire in exchange for the resumption of peace talks with the US and claimed that the Taliban already agreed to his terms. Until now, the Afghan Taliban did not confirm Trump's words but expressed their willingness to continue peace talks with the US.

This was Trump's Afghanistan policy turnaround in two aspects. First, the US wants to get back to peace negotiations with the Taliban after they were broken by Trump himself last September. And second, Trump for the first time conditioned the restart of peace negotiations with Taliban with a ceasefire which the Afghan Taliban have so far rejected.

Everybody can see that Trump is now eager to expeditiously reach a peace agreement with the Taliban and, at the same time, about to commit other miscalculation on them. Before last September, Trump overstated the expectations of reaching a peace agreement between the US and the Afghan Taliban, but then abruptly broke the ongoing talks and declared it as "dead and end". The reason was a Taliban attack which killed a US soldier. He might not be aware that the Taliban is very hard to be kept under control and tamed. He simply underestimated the Afghan Taliban.

Now Trump wants to get back to talks with the Afghan Taliban and at the same time put a precondition to them which they have already rejected. With this policy shift, Trump would hardly get the Taliban back to the negotiation table, unless they were willing to make the same fundamental policy change like Trump, namely, to accept Trump's precondition on the ceasefire. For tactical reasons, the Afghan Taliban this time might make concessions to the US only for the peace negotiations to continue again. But after the US troops withdraw from Afghanistan, any ceasefire commitment would mean nothing to the Taliban.

At present, the risk would be high for Trump if he follows this erroneous perception and miscalculation not only for the US in Afghanistan but also for his desire to be re-elected next year.