The Navy SEAL who ran the bin Laden raid says negotiating with the Taliban is like sitting down for talks with ISIS

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven speaks during a Reuters Newsmakers event in New York

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Retired U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven speaks during a Reuters Newsmakers event in New York
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Reuters

  • The Navy SEAL who oversaw the bin Laden raid said Wednesday that negotiating with the Taliban is like negotiating with ISIS, and that a negotiated peace may not be possible.
  • “If we negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban, and that settlement involves the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan,” retired Adm. Bill McRaven said, “it won’t be six months or a year before all of the blood and treasure we have put into Afghanistan will have been reversed because the Taliban will come back in and do what the Taliban do.”
  • His comments come just weeks after President Donald Trump planned to bring the Taliban to the US for peace talks, negotiations on a deal that was expected to see a withdrawal of US forces. The president ultimately canceled the peace talks, the plans of which sparked a bipartisan uproar.
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Negotiating with the Taliban is like sitting down with ISIS, the Navy SEAL who oversaw the mission that brought down Osama bin Laden said Wednesday, just weeks after President Donald Trump planned to bringing Taliban leaders to the US for talks.

“I never thought negotiations with the Taliban were the way to go,” retired Adm. Bill McRaven said at the New America Special Operations Forces Policy Forum Wednesday, adding, “I’ve said on occasion negotiating with the Taliban is like negotiating with ISIS.”

“And, maybe that’s not a good comparison,” he admitted.

“But,” the admiral continued, “I do believe that if we negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban, and that settlement involves the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan, that, you know, it won’t be six months or a year before all of the blood and treasure we have put into Afghanistan will have been reversed because the Taliban will come back in and do what the Taliban do.”

The president revealed earlier this month that he had intended to host Taliban leaders at Camp David, a presidential retreat, for peace talks.

Trump called announced the planned meeting in a tweet, in which he also canceled the meeting in response to a bombing that killed a US soldier. The secret meeting was initially scheduled to take place the Sunday before 9/11, a plan that drew a backlash.

Calling off peace negotiations with the Taliban, the president declared that talks were “dead” in discussions with reporters. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re dead,” he said.

Prior to these unexpected developments, the Trump administration had been working tirelessly to achieve a negotiated peace to the war in Afghanistan, a conflict that has been ongoing for nearly two decades and claimed well over two thousand US lives. The president had repeatedly made his desire to pull US troops out of the Middle East known, and the deal the US was working on was expected to lead to a drawdown.

And now, there again appears to be no end in sight.

“I’ve said we have to accept the fact – I think we do – that we’re going to be there for a very long time,” McRaven said Wednesday.

“Is it forever? I don’t think anything’s for forever. But does that mean that we will lose more young men and women? Does that mean we’re going to spend another billions of dollars? I think it does,” the admiral, who oversaw the 2011 bin Laden raid as head of Joint Special Operations Command, explained.

“Is there an opportunity for us to negotiate with the Taliban, get them to negotiate something that is a win-win? I don’t know. I have my doubts on that.”

Read more: Trump said he’s hitting Taliban ‘harder than they have ever been hit before’ hours after a rocket strike near the US embassy on 9/11 anniversary

Since talks collapsed, the fighting appears to have intensified, and in recent days, extremists have carried out a number of deadly bombings across Afghanistan. On more than one occasion, Trump, who previously criticized McRaven for not getting bin Laden sooner, has said that the US is now hitting the Taliban “harder than they have ever been hit before,” although it remains unclear how much US operations have been ramped up.