Leaders of the quasi-terrorist organization known as the Taliban had every reason to believe their strategy of shedding blood to prod Americans into pulling out of Afghanistan would work. It has in the past, for both Islamic extremists and others.
Not this time.
President Trump had planned a secret meeting with Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. It was expected the gathering, to be held at the Camp David presidential retreat, would be a step in finalizing plans for withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan.
Trump canceled the meeting. Of negotiations with the Taliban, he said on Monday, “They’re dead.”
Taliban leaders released a response that accused Mr. Trump of displaying “lack of composure and experience.” They also said they would continue military and terrorist operations aimed at restoring their regime to power.
It will be recalled that the Taliban ruled Afghanistan for several years, engaging all the time in severe, often murderous repression. They were ousted only because they hosted Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization while it was planning the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America.
Since then, the Taliban have regrouped and launched a drive to regain power. Much of it relies on murder, not military operations. And, as some warned, they seemed to believe that stepping up the violence would prompt Americans to flee Afghanistan.
In late August, two U.S. servicemen were killed in an attack, but American casualties are minuscule in comparison to the Taliban massacre of innocent civilians. About 300 have been murdered during the past three weeks.
Mr. Trump was right to reject the Taliban strategy. He should follow up by providing more military aid to the Afghan government, making it clear to the Taliban that their strategy has, if anything, backfired on them.
Many Americans want our servicemen and women out of Afghanistan — but bowing to the Taliban’s bloody strategy would be an invitation to them to become a terrorist regime and haven once again.