The American defeat in Afghanistan

The central lesson for the U.S. in this long and futile conflict, compounded by our experience in the Iraq War, is plain: The proper mission of the U.S. military is to deter and to defend — a statement that ought to be inscribed over the main entrance to the Pentagon 



March 9, 2020 - 9:57 AM

From left, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar sign a peace agreement during a ceremony in the Qatari capital Doha on Feb. 29, 2020. Photo by (Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Is “peace in our time” in Afghanistan at hand? President Trump thinks so. He described the agreement signed Saturday by an American diplomat and a Taliban official as providing “a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.” We must hope that he is correct.

Yet the prospective end of the longest war in U.S. history does not find Americans dancing in the streets. With the spread of the coronavirus and the ongoing drama of the Democratic primaries, Afghanistan figures at best as an afterthought in news media and the public mind. Besides, the nation has long since grown weary of armed interventions that drag on and on as if on autopilot. No Gettysburg, no D-day — just sporadic reports of bombs dropped and people killed.

Even so, while the peace plan may not prompt Americans to celebrate, it ought to provide an occasion for sober reflection. At least for now, our instinctive urge to move on, to forget, can wait.

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