Camp David, the presidential getaway in nearby Maryland, is a national historic site. It hosted the 1978 peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, which were a crown jewel of President Jimmy Carter’s tenure.

Carter personally squired Begin and Sadat in talks that led the next year to the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. The agreement earned the two Middle East leaders the Nobel Peace Prize. The treaty has held since then, with minor flash points.

But now President Donald Trump, in a clumsy, transparent and even irreverent gesture, has tried to cast himself as another foreign-policy giant. He invited Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Taliban leaders to Camp David. It was the Taliban that provided a haven for members of al-Qaida, the terrorist group that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed some 3,000 Americans.

Adding gross insult to that injury, Trump set the meeting for the week of Sept. 11, just after the 18th anniversary of the strike by three hijacked airliners on those targets, with a fourth plane brought down by sacrificial patriotic passengers in the Pennsylvania countryside.

But Trump had second thoughts. By his own admission in a tweet, he changed his mind and canceled the bizarre meeting. The invitation, particularly to the Taliban, showed an almost unimaginable insensitivity to American public reaction to using Camp David for such a purpose.

For one thing, Carter’s intervention was a deft effort to bring together two warring entities to whom the United States was an interested bystander party. Trump’s was a callous publicity stunt rewarding the Taliban in spite of its outrageous acts.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the invitation on the ABC News Sunday talk show “This Week” but said the negotiations were dead “for the time being,” and that American negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad had been recalled.

“We finally reached a point where we were close,” Pompeo said. “We’d made real progress. And then the Taliban failed to live up to a series of commitments that they had made. And when that happened, President Trump said, ‘I’m not going to take that deal.’”

Pompeo further observed: “If you’re going to negotiate peace, you

often have to deal with some pretty bad actors. I know the history, too, at Camp David, and indeed President Trump reflected on that. Some pretty bad people have traveled through that place throughout recorded history.”

Trump tweeted on Saturday that he canceled the meeting upon learning that the Taliban in Kabul had “killed one of our great soldiers and 11 other people,” and asked: “What kind of people would kill so many to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse!”

He added: “If they cannot agree to a ceasefire ... they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway.” And on Sunday, Trump went golfing again. Such is the state of war-and-peace diplomacy in the Trump era.

Still unexplained was why an American president would even think of rewarding the Talban with an invitation to Camp David, the venue of one of our proudest diplomatic achievements.

An obvious inference is that Trump, in his self-serving, narcissistic musings, may have conjured up a favorable comparison with Jimmy Carter in one of the latter’s rare laudatory foreign-policy accomplishments. If so, how pathetic can this sitting president become?

“Camp David is where America’s leaders met to plan our response after al-Qaeda, supported by Taliban, killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11,” tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. “No member of the Taliban should ever set foot there.”

Where are the other congressional Republicans as their national leader continues to flaunt his ignorance of his own country’s history and better moments on the international stage for the sake of his deplorable self-interest and self-aggrandizement?

Jules Witcover’s latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power,” published by Smithsonian Books. You can respond to this column at juleswitcover@comcast.net.

(43) comments

francesca_easa

For the most part, I support Trump's agenda. However, to invite terrorists to meet in our country is NEVER acceptable. Get us out of the Middle East. Let them fend for themselves.

awteam2000

It was suggested in an earlier comment that Trump has reduced unemployment particularly for blacks. That’s partially right.



Since Trump’s inauguration, the unemployment rate for all people has continued to fall, including minorities and women.  Overall unemployment, which peaked at 10.0% under Obama, dropped all the way to 4.8% during Obama’s two terms. It then has continued to drop from 4.8% to 3.9% under Trump.



The African American unemployment rate, which dropped from its peak of 16.8% to 7.8% (cut by 52%) under Obama, has fallen from 7.8% to 6.3% under Trump (12%). 



The Hispanic unemployment rate which dropped from its peak of 13.0% to 5.9% under Obama, has fallen from 5.9% to 4.7% under Trump. 



The female unemployment rate which dropped from its peak of 8.3% to 4.4% under Obama, has fallen from 4.4% to 3.6% under Trump.


Obadiah Plainsmen

The last 6 years of Obama's Presidency he had a Republican controlled Congress. Was this a factor or not? If it was I still give all the credit to Obama because he was the President. As long as people are working who cares who gets bragging rights

threecents

Are you an economist?

Comment deleted.
marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

Obadiah Plainsmen

Jules,

Don't be so short-sighted. Maybe Trump was thinking that the same thing that happened to Anwar Sadat after his meeting at Camp David would happen to the Taliban officials.

Comment deleted.
Obadiah Plainsmen

Give him some credit, he was thinking about Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania more than Hillary was.

awteam2000

Score 1 there. 😥

Comment deleted.
rikkitikkitavvi

[thumbup] @ jersey

Comment deleted.
Comment deleted.
awteam2000

Isn’t the point, Trump doesn’t have the ‘wherewithal’ to get the job done?


Comment deleted.
skipsd0g1

Amen jersey.

Dwasserba

“No member of the Taliban should ever set foot there.”

Comment deleted.
des21

You're still hilarious Sam! Keep the faith baby. It's important to believe in something- anything- in life!

Comment deleted.
des21

They don't golf. But I'm sure you know that.

Comment deleted.
des21

He actually is a pretty awesome deal maker. Look how he turned Macron from foe to friend in just 2 short meetings. Obviously North Korea but i know some of you will see no good. I think having a transactional President who looks at diplomacy as a one-off proposition (like a business deal) has actually been quite refreshing and productive for America. I know it upsets the old fogies but he's not your typical 70-something year-old baby-boomer. He's willing to rock the boat and i find that refreshing. And the economy! My goodness! Particularly for Blacks, Latinos and white blue collar workers it's been outstanding. My hat's off to the guy. Obnoxious and i wouldn't want to break bread with him but he's been remarkably successful. He deserves another term- particularly given the left-wing nut jobs who are running against him. Good show Mr. President!



To criticize him for misusing Camp David? We are really getting to the bottom of the barrel. I didn't think that was possible but here we are.

DickD

Another blown photo opportunity for Trump.


threecents

No doubt he will invite both sides back. This is his pattern - to start negotiations on a positive note, break them off unilaterally to demonstrate his power, and then later have a re-start. It does not usually work, but that is part of what Trump calls his "negotiating style." This reminds of when Carter considered negotiating with the PLO - another terrorist group. At least Carter did not do that secretly. I wonder why Trump was doing this secretly and then suddenly tweeted about it.

FCPS-Principal

This sure as heck isn't the only thing the so-called president has botched.


secpol1970

Yeah 44 screwed up so many times didn't he? So called principal needs to go back to brainwashing students.

rikkitikkitavvi

secpol , You have to remember in the eyes of the Trump haters on this site and across this country the former President could do no wrong even when he was bowing to other Nations leaders on his apology tour. Yet this one, the one that beat their (final nail in this country's coffin) feministic, "it's my turn" screeching "I also hate America" lunatic can, in their eyes, do no right. Even when everything positive he has and is doing is right in their face. But then again they watch the alphabet soup of fake news that also hates Trump (for the same reasons) on a daily basis from their not so safe spaces anymore. So what can anyone expect except epic, on public display for all to see, TDS? I've had to enlarge my liberal tears chalice so many times since the Trump election I can barely lift it anymore. I guess we all have our cross to bear.

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

skipsd0g1

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

awteam2000

Sound like a lot of Americans hate Trump. Right? Where’s the love 🤷‍♂️?


rikkitikkitavvi

@aw You shall see in 2020. Bank on it!

threecents

Bank on Trump winning? So I should take my 401K out of the stock market?

rikkitikkitavvi

STILL WINNING!! @cents

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

Thewheelone

"Where are the other congressional Republicans as their national leader continues to flaunt his ignorance of his own country’s history and better moments on the international stage for the sake of his deplorable self-interest and self-aggrandizement?" That, Mr. Witcover, is the question that has plagued me since 2016. What is it going to take to turn this abomination of the executive office around? The power to do so is there; the fortitude and willingness to go out on a political limb is quite another conversation.




Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.