The Afghan Disaster

President Joe Biden listens to a reporter’s question during a press conference on Afghanistan, August 26, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Notes on a war, a withdrawal, and a murky, anxious future

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he Afghan withdrawal is a disaster — a humiliation for the United States, and an instance of dishonor. This will have a negative effect for a long time to come.

• The origins of the Afghan War are poorly remembered. War was not inevitable. The United States did not want to go to war in Afghanistan. We gave the Taliban a choice, an ultimatum: Give up al-Qaeda, thus sparing yourselves invasion, overthrow, and exile; or be invaded, overthrown, and exiled. The Taliban chose the latter.

This suggests a certain commitment, between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The commitment has never waned. The Taliban

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