bildt102_Nava JamshidiGetty Images_kabul one year Nava Jamshidi/Getty Images

Did the Afghan Failure Lead to the Ukraine War?

One year after the fall of Kabul and the Taliban’s return to power, Afghanistan is in dire straits, and America and the broader West have yet to conduct a proper post-mortem of the policy failures there. Worse, Russia appears to have taken the US withdrawal as an invitation to launch a new war of its own.

STOCKHOLM – Why did the West’s Afghanistan policy fail so spectacularly? Was it doomed from the very beginning, and have any lessons been learned? More to the point, did the end of one 20-year war pave the way for another?

One year after the fall of Kabul and the Taliban’s return to power, these and other questions are hanging in the air. They remain unanswered, partly because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and renewed Sino-American tensions have consumed much of the oxygen, but also because they are too painful to consider. It has been easier for the international community simply to forget about Afghanistan altogether.

Contrary to simplistic arguments one hears in the United States, the immediate reason for the Afghan regime’s collapse was not that Afghan soldiers didn’t want to fight for their country. In fact, tens of thousands had fought and died trying to stop the Taliban, only for the US suddenly to withdraw all political and material support for their fight. The regime collapsed because America had decided to get out, the consequences be damned.

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