Key Points

Trump was right in 2014 when he decried the Obama administration’s decision to exchange the Taliban Five for a traitor. Yet now his administration is negotiating with these very same killers. These talks undermine the legitimacy of the Afghan government—America’s chief ally in the war against the Taliban—and bolster our enemies. Whatever “peace” we eventually declare will be nothing but a Taliban victory.

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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 Trump administration has condemned the latest attack and reaffirmed its support for Egypt’s efforts to “combat terrorism and violence against religious communities.” To help Cairo overhaul its counterterrorism strategy, Washington should encourage the government to tackle the underlying causes of terrorism by combating the radical Islamist ideas that drive it. The United States should work with Egypt to advance policies that reform educational curricula, roll back policies discriminating against Copts and other religious communities, and foster the rule of law.

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All the while, the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is running a shadow government, which is preparing to rule over more ground in the future.

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Projects