Former U.S. Ambassador weighs in on canceled Taliban talks, Bolton’s departure

Former U.S. Foreign Service Ambassador and Spokane native Ryan Crocker weighed in on President Trump’s decision to fire John Bolton and talks of meeting with the Taliban on Tuesday.

Crocker served as an Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon over the course of 19 years.

He lives in Spokane and spoke to 4 News Now’s Robyn Nance Tuesday, just as news about John Bolton was breaking.

“We’ve seen a revolving door in the Trump administration, certainly with the position of National Security Advisor,” Crocker said. “National Security Advisors, in modern times, are about process – they’re not about policy, in and of themselves.”

Crocker explained that the National Security Advisor should work to find agreement between the various secretaries, advisors and directors in the National Security Cabinet.

“As we move to National Security Advisor number four, I’m not sure there’s a really long line to get through that door, and that falls on the President,” said Crocker. “And we have a President who doesn’t really want to get advice from anyone else. That will take us nowhere good.”

Crocker was also critical of the president’s now-canceled plan to hold peace talks with the Taliban and said it likely relates back to Bolton’s firing.

President Trump said Saturday that Taliban leaders were to travel to Camp David for secret peace talks. He tweeted that he scrapped the meeting after the Taliban took credit for an attack in Afghanistan that killed a dozen people, including an American soldier.

Crocker said the entire situation was a mistake.

“This mess over the Taliban coming to Camp David is a train wreck – not a set of on-time trains, so that falls to the National Security Advisor,” said Crocker. “In an administration that is known for its bad ideas, this stands alone as the singularly worst one I’ve seen.”

Crocker noted that the Taliban is a terrorist organization, not a government the U.S. is at war with.

“It is a terrorist group, and to have them in this country, at Camp David, shaking hands with our President, when there isn’t even a cease fire in place, let alone a political agreement, is just absolutely terrible,” said Crocker.

Crocker did praise the president for what he described as a “minimalist” default position on international crisis.

“If you remember the issue of the Iranians shooting down a surveillance drone of ours; he was set to pull the trigger, literally that, then backed off,” Crocker explained. “He said, because of the collateral damage that might take place, I think that’s his instinct – don’t start shooting if you don’t have to, so that much is good. The problem is, in a place like Afghanistan, we are already shooting, and have been for 18 years. How you manage that process, and what I’ve seen so far, to say the least, is not encouraging.”

So, how does the U.S. break ties with Afghanistan?

“Today, we’ve got about 14,000 [troops in Afghanistan] and the country has not come unglued. So, I think we’re able to maintain a presence, get the jobs to be done, done, and keep our country secure, in the sense of not letting real estate where Al Qaeda can return with minimal troop presence,” said Crocker. “So, if we can do this with 14,000… then maybe we can do the same thing down the road with say 10,000.”