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Peace deal? It’s time to get out in any case

A temporary truce took effect Friday in Afghanistan. It is meant to create the circumstances for the United States and the Taliban to reach a peace deal this week. Such a deal would end an 18-year commitment by U.S. military forces in that nation.

Ending the U.S. presence in Afghanistan would be good news. But it would be naive to believe the Taliban are pro-peace. The brutally Muslim extremist Taliban ruled Afghanistan for many years before being ousted by a U.S.-led invasion in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America by al-Qaida terrorists. That military action came only after the Taliban, which had provided a safe haven for al-Qaida, refused to give up the terrorists, it should be noted.

But during the nearly 20 years since they were booted out of power, the Taliban have been keeping up the fight to regain it. They have been gaining control over larger and larger swaths of Afghanistan.

Americans have grown sick of the cost in both blood and money of our continued presence in Afghanistan. One of President Donald Trump’s campaign pledges in 2016 was to withdraw U.S. troops from the country.

We believe the American public and the world need to fully understand the consequences of leaving Afghanistan under a peace deal that the Taliban may or may not honor. While the United States still has plenty of air power and other military assets in the region, do not look for it to push ground forces back into the country. Nor should it.

We believe that after 18 years, it is more than fair to call Afghanistan a quagmire. There is no “winning” there. It will be up to Afghans themselves to keep the Taliban in check. If they cannot, the U.S. may need to take what actions it can to limit the Taliban’s capacity to do harm, with the exception, of course, of resuming a ground war.

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