Peace Talks Off, Netanyahu Reveals Nuclear Site, 2020 Update

Monday, September 9, 2019

Peace Talks Off
President Trump called off peace talks with the Taliban in the wake of a suicide bombing that killed 12, including one American soldier.  In a series of tweets over the weekend, the president revealed plans for a meeting at Camp David, writing:
"Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. . .  
"Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, [the Taliban] admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great, great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. . .
"If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks . . . then they probably don't have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway.  How many more decades are they willing to fight?"
The president has supporters who are happy he called off the Camp David meeting and he has supporters who are concerned about this development because they think it is time to get out of Afghanistan.  I understand both perspectives.
On one hand, the Taliban is not defeated.  It appears that the Afghan military, after 18 years, is still not capable of standing on its own and finishing the job.  One analysis estimates that there are as many as 60,000 Taliban fighters who may control roughly 45% of the country. 
It is more than likely that after whatever peace deal is made, the Taliban and other bad actors would step up their attacks.  It is also possible that the Afghan government would fall or continue to lose control of major parts of the country.
On the other hand, we've been there 18 years.  We've lost more than 2,300 American heroes. We've spent at least $800 billion there.  I don't see any reason to believe that the 14,000 American troops currently stationed in Afghanistan are going to win this war.
Those glad we called off the talks argue that we haven't won yet.  But the path we're on is not a path to victory.  Would 100,000 troops be able to win?  We had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan nine years ago and did not secure victory then. 
The Soviet Union deployed 125,000 troops to Afghanistan and could not subdue the country after ten years of war.  Would 300,000 U.S. troops be enough? 
We have not decisively won a war since World War II.  Even in that war, many of the countries we liberated were swallowed behind the Iron Curtain of Soviet communism.  Today, American governments and the American people often appear not to have the will do the things that had to be done to win World War II.
Faced with studies predicting half a million casualties or more, Harry Truman made the decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan to win the war.  We forced the Japanese emperor to go on national radio and renounce his claim of divinity.  In other words, we crushed the Japanese will to fight on.
America has some hard thinking to do about whether we are ever willing to make such hard decisions to win a war again.
Netanyahu Reveals Nuclear Site
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today revealed the location of yet another secret Iranian nuclear research facility.  The facility is in Abadeh, roughly 400 miles south of Tehran in the Fars province. 
At a press conference, Netanyahu showed satellite photos of the site taken in June and in July.  He declared:
"Last year, we exposed Iran's secret nuclear warehouse in Turquzabad which Iran used for storing materials and equipment for its secret nuclear program. . . Earlier today, the IAEA demanded that Iran answer its questions regarding these violations and Iran refused.
"Today, we reveal that yet another secret nuclear site was exposed in the archives that we brought from Tehran. In this site, Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons.
"This is the site near Abadeh, south of Isfahan.  When Iran realized that we uncovered the site here's what they did: they destroyed the site. They just wiped it out. . .
"This is what I have to say to the tyrants of Tehran: Israel knows what you're doing, Israel knows when you're doing it and Israel knows where you're doing it. We will continue to expose your lies.  What we see is a consistent pattern of Iranian lies, deception and violations.
"I call on the international community to wake up, to realize that Iran is systematically lying, and I call on the international community to join President Trump's sanctions to exert more pressure on Iran.
"The only way to stop Iran's march to the bomb, and its aggression in the region, is pressure, pressure and more pressure."
2020 Update
CBS News released new polling today showing the Democrat presidential contest remains a three-way race between Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  But Warren is clearly gaining momentum.  In fact, CBS estimates that Warren is significantly ahead of Sanders and nipping at Biden's heels in the delegate count.
Meanwhile, former South Carolina Congressman and Governor Mark Sanford announced yesterday that he is jumping into the GOP primary against President Trump.  Sanford joins former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh in the GOP primary contest.