Key Points

If President Trump understands and agrees with this, he will want to ask some hard questions over the weeks ahead. He also might consider requesting new and improved policy options. In Afghanistan and beyond, the United States needs to do better than it’s done over the past 10 years.

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The United States is no longer trying to defeat the Taliban. Instead, the Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, wants out. The Taliban knows this and is more than happy to dictate the terms of America’s withdrawal. That’s what is now being negotiated. The jihadists also know that wars end in victory or defeat—and their victory is at hand.

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Al Qaeda has faced other obstacles as well. In its war with the U.S., the group has lost key management personnel. Most important, of course, was the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Scores of other senior figures have been killed or captured. This has raised logistical hurdles, disrupting communications and al Qaeda’s chain of command. In addition, the rise of the Islamic State in 2013 and 2014 created the biggest challenge to al Qaeda’s authority within the global jihadist movement since its inception in 1988.

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Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.

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Al-Adel has long been wanted by the FBI for his role in the 1998 embassy bombings. Two decades after that heinous attack, he still hasn’t been brought to justice. And during much of that time, the Iranians have known his whereabouts.

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