After President Donald Trump publicly revealed – and publicly cancelled – his hitherto secret plan to host the Taliban and the president of Afghanistan at Camp David, it’s time to question the boasts and the reality of the big deals he claimed he could broker for America three years ago.
The negotiations with the Taliban are the least of it. The Trump administration was not trying to end the 18-year war – America’s longest – just to secure an arrangement for a speedy exit.
So the hoped-for Afghan peace deal is not the trigger for the question about Mr Trump’s claimed deal-making capabilities. We already know about those. His love of grand personal gestures has already fallen short with North Korea, China, and in the Middle East.
Afghanistan simply underlines Mr Trump’s painful, ineffectual habit and erratic reasoning that produces, in fairly predictable sequence, the following: photo op, grand statements, stalemate.
The pattern is clear: North Korea talks are stalled, the Middle East deal of the century was a non-event. In fact, the much-vaunted Israeli-Palestinian peace plan has yet to be properly unveiled and Mr Trump’s point man, Jason Greenblatt, said last week he’s stepping down. The US-China trade war continues to grind on.
The art of the deal seems still to elude Mr Trump. Thus far, the number of deals he’s done for the US are…zero.