Negotiating with the Taliban is not an option


While in a state of civil war, Afghanistan has the foundation of a democratic state. Recently, the United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. would be open to negotiating with “moderate” members of the Taliban. He also added that the U.S. could allow them to take part in Afghanistan’s government, according to a report by The Washington Post. Not only would this proposal to end the civil war not work, but also it would equal the concession of defeat for America.

To believe that there are moderate elements within the Taliban is to ignore the organization’s history. The Taliban is a violent Sunni fundamentalist group that wants to reestablish control over Afghanistan and install Sharia law. The Taliban should not be able to negotiate for the democratic government that is in place, especially since they should be considered a terrorist organization.

Currently, no U.S. government entity classifies the Afghan Taliban as a terrorist group, according to the State Department’s of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Classified as an armed insurgent group, the U.S. should rename the Afghan Taliban as a terrorist group. From persecuting the people of Afghanistan to bombing American troops, the legal definition of what is a terrorist group applies to the organization. The proper naming will send a message that the U.S. is not interested in negotiating with the Afghan Taliban. Likewise, it will show America’s commitment to the long-term task of defeating them.

During President Barack Obama‘s administration, attempts taken to negotiate with moderate members of the Taliban failed. In 2015, the Taliban affirmed its alliance with Al-Qaeda and vowed to continue waging war against the U.S, according to The Brookings Institute. For an administration that is distancing itself from the policies and procedures of Obama’s administration, to restart failed negotiations has no political value.

Instead of negotiating with the Taliban, members of President Donald Trump’s administration should promote the plan already in place. In August, Trump announced his Afghanistan strategy. Troop levels were going to increase by an unspecified amount, continue training Afghan counterinsurgent forces and the U.S. would continue destroying existing terrorist sanctuaries within Afghanistan.

Allowing the Taliban to speak for the current government of Afghanistan would destabilize it. Inviting the same group that bombed civilians who voted in the most recent presidential election for Afghanistan sends a disastrous message that the U.S. does not believe that the current democratic government of Afghanistan is stable in the long run. Given the support that the Afghanistan government receives from the U.S, this would delegitimize it within the eyes of its own populace.

While Americans are wary of nation building in Afghanistan, completing it the right way is a must, even if it takes countless years. The U.S. has wasted too much blood and resources to build a functioning state in Afghanistan. Taking the effortless way out of the conflict by reaching a deal with the Taliban will empower a radical group that could seize power once again in a vacuum. Afghanistan must not become a moral and geopolitical failure for the U.S.