Milbank: What was really ‘unbeknownst’ to us in Taliban treaty

What led Trump to believe a pact with an unrepentant enemy, signed near 9-11, would be a good idea?

By Dana Milbank

The Washington Post

There are many things to fear about the Trump presidency. Scariest of all may be those things we don’t even know we have to worry about; such as President Trump preparing to surrender to the Taliban at Camp David on the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Few could have dreamed that such an outrage to American pride was even possible before seeing Trump’s Saturday tweet. “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. They were coming to the United States tonight,” he wrote, but because of recent violence, “I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations.”

While it’s a relief to learn that Trump isn’t planning to insult the 9/11 victims on the anniversary of their deaths, it raises the question: What else could he be planning?

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, I was going to award the presidential medal of freedom posthumously to Jeffrey Epstein on Sunday, but I immediately canceled the ceremony.”

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, I was going to name Kanye West as White House spokesman and Alex Jones as head of the National Weather Service on Sunday, but I immediately called off the announcement.”

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, I was going to attack Denmark and annex Greenland on Sunday, but I immediately canceled the invasion and called off the bombers.”

Trump seems to enjoy the theatrics of canceling things he had (supposedly) planned to do. He canceled a retaliatory attack on Iran after ordering one up. He canceled, then reinstated, a meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He stormed into a meeting with Democrats for the sole purpose of canceling it. He canceled his Denmark trip after the prime minister panned his Greenland scheme. He said he canceled the Air Force One contract with Boeing because of high costs (then wound up paying even more). He cancels meetings with reporters as punishment. He’s constantly scheduling and canceling his talks with China. He has canceled dozens of proposed nominations.

But why did he cancel the Taliban sleepover party at Camp David? The stated reason — another Taliban attack in Afghanistan — doesn’t make much sense, because Taliban violence in Afghanistan happens all the time. I suspect it’s because he read a draft of the proposed peace agreement, and it went something like this:

CAMP DAVID, Sept. 11, 2019: Taliban Peace Treaty (Great Deal!)

Section A: Background

The Taliban sheltered and coddled the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11; has never renounced the attack or its role in it; continues to have an alliance with al-Qaida; was the main enemy in an 18-year war that killed 2,400 Americans; has killed countless thousands of Afghan civilians, many children, women and the elderly; has targeted schools, hospitals and aid workers in attacks; has closed girls’ schools, denied health care and employment to women and subjected thousands of women to beatings, killings, acid attacks, gang rapes, public lashings and stoning for suspected infidelity or failure to cover themselves from head to toe; has conscripted young boys as suicide bombers, bans polio vaccines and blocks food aid.

Section B: United States Concessions

In recognition of the foregoing, the United States proposes immediately to pull 5,000 and eventually all 14,000 troops out of Afghanistan; to give the fledgling Afghan government, which the Taliban calls a “stooge government,” no say in the matter; and to provide no meaningful deterrent to continued Taliban atrocities and oppression.

Section C: Taliban Concessions

In exchange for U.S. withdrawal under Section B, Taliban leaders agree to ask very nicely if the terrorists they work with might please consider refraining from attacking the United States, if it isn’t too much trouble. The Taliban delegation also agrees as part of this treaty to stay at Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland while refueling on the way home from Camp David.

Section D: Enforcement Mechanism

In the event the Taliban does not fulfill its obligations under Section C, the United States reserves the right to issue a sternly worded (written) statement of protest. But it promises to pull all troops out anyway.

Belatedly, Trump evidently realized that he was surrendering to America’s enemies on U.S. soil, desecrating the memory of the most solemn day in modern U.S. history and insulting those who have fought and died in a worthy cause. Should we be relieved? Or terrified as we await the next cockamamie idea, “unbeknownst” to all, to tumble from his disorganized brain?

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter @Milbank.

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