I think that the editors of the Washington Post have the situation in Afghanistan almost completely backwards:
There are two big reasons for doubt about whether negotiations can progress. One is the lopsided terms of the U.S.-Taliban deal, and thus of the balance of power between the two Afghan sides. The United States agreed to withdraw all of its troops from the country by next May, tied only to promises by the Taliban not to target U.S. and other international forces and to break ties with al-Qaeda. The insurgents have not fully delivered on either of those commitments, according to international monitors and U.S. military commanders, and they have continued attacks on governments forces, killing and wounding more than 10,000 since the accord was signed in February.
That noncompliance dovetails with the other fundamental problem, which is the evident desire of President Trump to pull U.S. forces out of Afghanistan regardless of the circumstances. Having drawn down U.S. troop levels from 12,000 to 8,600 in accordance with the deal, Mr. Trump pushed for another withdrawal before the U.S. presidential election; as a result, the troop count will be down to 4,500 by November. A logical course for the Taliban is to stall on the talks while waiting to see if a reelected Mr. Trump — or former vice president Joe Biden — will complete the pullout unconditionally.
The chance for an Afghan peace will depend on the willingness of the U.S. president to maintain U.S. forces in place until the Taliban show a genuine will to settle. Agreement on a comprehensive cease-fire, along with a definitive break with al-Qaeda, should be preconditions for a full withdrawal. The Taliban has incentives to settle, including a desire for international recognition and aid for future governments. If the United States stands firm, then the peace process it has initiated will have a chance to succeed.
They’ve got it wrong. Any movements in negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban are a consequence of U. S. plans to withdraw. Presumably, they’re negotiating the terms of the government’s surrender.
Our invasion of Afghanistan was always ill-conceived. We never intended to remain in Afghanistan forever i.e. colonize and began announcing our ultimate intention to withdraw almost from the moment that the Taliban had been overthrown.
Lest I be accused of Monday morning quarterbacking, I have been saying this since 2001 as has just about everyone who actually knows anything about Afghanistan. The editors on the other hand have been wrong from the very start and still are.