Trump’s Ego Killed Taliban Talks

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Zalmay Khalilzad, our chief negotiator in Afghanistan, reached a final agreement with the Taliban a week ago. The New York Times tells the story of what happened next:

Leaders of both teams initialed their copies and handed them to their Qatari hosts.

Before the end of the meeting, Mr. Khalilzad brought up the idea of a Taliban trip to Washington. Taliban leaders said they accepted the idea — as long as the visit came after the deal was announced.

That would become a fundamental dividing point contributing to the collapse of the talks. Mr. Trump did not want the Camp David meeting to be a celebration of the deal; after staying out of the details of what has been a delicate effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump wanted to be the dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or at least be perceived to be.

Trump couldn’t accept a limited but workable deal that had been negotiated by someone else. So without any prep, he insisted on inviting both Taliban leaders and the president of Afghanistan to Camp David to negotiate a bigger, more expansive deal that he could triumphantly announce himself. Instead, everything fell apart. President Deals, yet again, had made any deal impossible.

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