Foreign Policy Digital

Getting to ‘Yes’ Has Just Gotten a Lot Harder in Afghanistan

An abrupt end to a possible deal with the Taliban sticks the United States deeper in the quagmire.

On Sept. 10, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton became the latest victim of the Trump administration’s nonstop revolving door—one that has produced dizzying levels of personnel turnover at the highest levels.

Bolton’s last major act as national security advisor was to urge Trump to back away from an emerging deal between U.S. negotiators and the Taliban. Bolton won that final policy battle; Trump called off Taliban talks, including an alleged secret summit with the insurgents at Camp David, in a series of tweets on Sept. 7—although he publicly attributed the decision to Taliban attacks, not Bolton’s advice. Three days later, Bolton was sacked.

Trump’s ouster of one of the most vocal administration opponents of Washington’s negotiations with the Taliban suggests that the president may be willing to give talks another try. In fact, there are several reasons to believe that U.S. officials will try to pick up the pieces of a shattered U.S.-Taliban deal. But make no mistake: Now that Trump

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