The Cancellation of Peace Talks Affects Both Sides: Bolton Removed, Afghans Toward Fragile Vote
After President Trump announced the cancellation of secret peace talks at Camp David, a longstanding disagreement between National Security Adviser John Bolton and the president resulted with Bolton’s removal, and “a gift” to the beleaguered Afghan president.
Although it is still unclear whether Bolton resigned or was removed, most of the mainstream media and policy experts address Bolton’s hawkish line on foreign policy as the main cause. Carol Morello of Washington Post said, “it appears that their differences were not so much ideological as they were tactical, particularly, in big three countries involving policy towards Iran, North Korea, and most recently, Afghanistan.”
According to a Politico report, President Donald Trump removed national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday, saying he and the hawkish aide “disagreed strongly” on several issues and suggested that Bolton had collided with other Trump advisers, too. The decision came after reports that Bolton attempted to stop Trump from inviting leaders of the Afghan Taliban for peace talks.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters that Bolton’s “priorities and policies just don’t line up with the president’s.” He added, “any sitting president has the right to put someone in that position that can carry out his agenda. That became no longer tenable so the president made a change.”
However, others told CBS News White House correspondent Major Garrett that ‘the main irritant that drove Mr. Trump to distraction was his belief that Bolton or those close to Bolton leaked a story about Mr. Trump asking about whether nuclear weapons could be used to abate hurricanes.’
Pompeo asked if he was caught up off-guard for the recent development in a press meeting. He said, “I am never surprised,” with a smile.
For Afghans, the deal is more complicated. According to Cara Anna of AP News, Trump’s weekend announcement benefited Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. He was sidelined in the negotiations as the Taliban dismissed his government as a U.S. puppet. Negotiations have life importance for Afghans. Mohammad Ashraf Ghanī Ahmadzai, the president of Afghanistan, aims a second five-year term for a strong mandate to negotiate with the Taliban. The president may use the cancellation as leverage to gain support.
However, Afghan unity is so scattered and disunited. Confidence in the Afghan electoral process is still low because the 2014 presidential vote caused months of turmoil ending in a shaky national unity government between Ghani and his rival, now-Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, alleged fraud. Parliamentary elections were so chaotic that Ghani fired the entire Independent Electoral Commission last year.
Former U.S. ambassadors said, “millions of Afghans have risked, and again are prepared to risk, death to vote… It is not up to the United States to deprive them of this opportunity to determine who speaks for the Afghan state.”
WHAT THE LEFT IS SAYING: Nancy Pelosi. Speaker of the House, Democrat.
“John Bolton’s sudden departure is a symbol of the disarray that has unnerved our allies since day one of the Trump Administration. Steady leadership & strategic foreign policy is key to ensuring America’s national security.”
WHAT THE RIGHT IS SAYING: Lindsey Graham, Senator, Republican.
“I have known @AmbJohnBolton for many years and very much appreciate his service to our country in a variety of positions.
John understands the world for what it is and the dangers that threaten America’s national security interests”