Opinion Columns & Blogs

Discussing peace with the people behind 9/11 and so many other deaths is tough decision

Almost a year ago, Georgia-based Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz was killed as part of Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in the Paktiya Province of Afghanistan. He’s one of a number of American fighters killed as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, while their killers from the Taliban continue to negotiate with us to get our troops to withdraw.

The question is whether we should continue to do so.

On 9/11, terrorists from al-Qaeda killed thousands of Americans at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on four airliners. They were based out of Afghanistan, where a group called the Taliban gave them all of the operational support and backing that Osama bin Laden’s forces could want, in exchange for the terror organization killing the leader of the Northern Alliance, the enemy of the Taliban. The quid pro quo could not have been any clearer.

The Bush administration launched Operation Enduring Freedom, which drove the Taliban from power and put al-Qaeda on the run, which was great. Then the administration chose to prioritize Iraq and Saddam Hussein as the new targets, taking our focus off the hunt for Bin-Laden and finishing off the Taliban, which was not so great.

The Taliban got back into the game. Americans found themselves ambushed as they provided security for the new Afghan government. One of them was LaGrange College graduate Lt. Scott Fleming, an education major who was killed protecting parliamentary elections in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan on Sept. 17, 2010. He was a graduate of Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, and signed up to serve in the U.S. Marines after 9/11, beginning two weeks after his graduation from our college.

Now we have to negotiate with this group?

I get the arguments from those who disagree with me. We negotiated a surrender with Nazi Germany, right? We negotiated with Tojo’s government the surrender of Japan, signing it on the battleship USS Missouri, right? We can’t fight forever, right?

But there’s a difference.

In 1945, we didn’t negotiate to leave the Nazis in power. We didn’t negotiate to keep the Japan’s military regime that slaughtered our sailors and soldiers and civilians in power, did we?

According to the U.S. negotiators, the Taliban promises not to support international terrorism. So how is the Islamic State operating in Afghanistan? Are they working with the Taliban? We’ve promised to withdraw our forces. So why are Americans like Spc. Miguel Holmes of Hinesville, GA (also serving in Operation Freedom’s Sentinel) dying on May 21, 2019? There are at least 2,200 troops from Georgia’s 48th. Brigade deploying in Afghanistan. Will the Taliban at least refrain from killing them and other Americans while we “talk peace?”

This is beginning to look a lot more like the Paris Peace Talks of 1973, which led to the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. If you agree that we’re negotiating with terrorists who can’t be trusted, and we need a different strategy, let your elected officials know. You owe it to those who died on 9/11, and in the efforts to stop the Taliban in Afghanistan, not to remain silent.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.