Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020 | 2 a.m.
President Donald Trump vowed to smash the Taliban early in his term. Now his policy lies in tatters. The Taliban are as strong as ever and U.S. forces are on their way out. The fractured country is infested with cross-border terrorist groups — even al-Qaida, the organization that carried out the 9/11 attacks.
How different it all looked Aug. 21, 2017, when a recently elected Trump addressed the nation and promised to prevail in Afghanistan, not just hold the line like his predecessors.
Terrorists, he said, “are nothing but thugs, and criminals, and predators, and — that’s right — losers. … Our troops will fight to win.”
Unlike Barack Obama, Trump vowed he would not “announce in advance the dates we intend to begin, or end, military options.” The Taliban might have a role in a political settlement, but only