To the editor: There is no question that the ongoing U.S.-Taliban talks have their pitfalls (“No deal yet with the Taliban, but Trump is planning big cuts in U.S. presence,” Aug. 14). Reports of the Trump administration planning for a U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan compound the legitimate concern among many that the Taliban will fail to uphold its end of the bargain in the event an agreement is struck.
But the blunt reality is that whatever flaws exist, the United States has no other choice than to negotiate our way out. Critics who denounce the current talks have no realistic alternative to offer other than continuing a war most Americans want to leave in the rearview mirror.
I spent the last 10 years of my military career under a declaration of war; my son, now in his 18th year of service, has spent his entire Navy career under the same authorization. Those who wish to hold the line have a responsibility to justify why the effort is worth sending more of America’s sons and daughters into the fight.
Concessions will have to be offered to the Taliban, some of which will be painful for us to swallow. But just as the enemy gets a vote on the battlefield, it gets a vote at the peace table as well. After 18 years of blood and expense, it’s time to settle the conflict and come home.
Len Hering, Chula Vista
Hering is a retired Navy vice admiral and a fellow at the American College of National Security Leaders.