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Was Biden handcuffed by Trump’s Taliban deal in Doha?

11 5 1
20.08.2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — As former United States president Donald Trump’s administration signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February 2020, he optimistically proclaimed that “we think we’ll be successful in the end.” His secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, asserted that the administration was “seizing the best opportunity for peace in a generation.”

Eighteen months later, US President Joe Biden is pointing to the agreement signed in Doha, Qatar, as he tries to deflect blame for the Taliban overrunning Afghanistan in a blitz. He says that it bound him to withdraw US troops, setting the stage for the chaos engulfing the country.

But Biden can go only so far in claiming the agreement boxed him in. It had an escape clause: The US could have withdrawn from the accord if Afghan peace talks failed. They did, but Biden chose to stay in it, although he delayed the complete pullout from May to September.

Chris Miller, acting defense secretary in the final months of the Trump administration, chafed at the idea that Biden was handcuffed by the agreement.

“If he thought the deal was bad, he could have renegotiated. He had plenty of opportunity to do that if he so desired,” Miller, a top Pentagon counterterrorism official at the time the Doha deal was signed, said in an interview.

Renegotiating, though, would have been difficult. Biden would have had little leverage. He, like Trump, wanted US troops out of Afghanistan. Pulling out of the agreement might have forced him to send thousands more back in.

He made that point on Monday, saying in a televised address from the White House that he would not commit to sending more American troops to fight for Afghanistan’s future while also harkening back to the Trump deal to suggest that the withdrawal path was predetermined by his predecessor.

“The choice I had to make, as your president, was either to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season,” Biden........

© The Times of Israel


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