A little more than eighteen years after the 9/11 attacks, America’s war in Afghanistan has finally ended, bringing our longest conflict to a close and leaving Afghans with the promise of a lasting peace. Or that’s what the Trump administration would have you believe. On February 29, it signed a deal with the Taliban that provides for the withdrawal of the remaining 12,000 U.S. military personnel from Afghanistan in just over one year. It also commits the Taliban to future power-sharing negotiations with the democratically elected (though woefully corrupt) Afghan government in Kabul. But the text of the agreement, only four pages long, is conspicuously vague in its details, especially concerning the Taliban’s commitment to “violence reduction.” This has prompted U.S. lawmakers and commentators on all sides of the political spectrum to question whether the Taliban will actually honor its end of the bargain. We’d be better able to answer this question if the White House would release the two classified “annexes” outlining the U.S. military’s verification mechanisms; it won’t, so we can’t.
But then there’s the evidence on the ground. Just days after signing the agreement, the Taliban (“great fighters” who “kill terrorists” and defend American values, according to Trump) resumed deadly attacks on U.S.-backed Afghan government forces. Nor has the Taliban expelled terrorists from the ranks of its leadership: the influential Sirajuddin Haqqani, of the Haqqani Network, a group known for its suicide-bombing campaign, remains at the helm of the Taliban’s military.