Americans Must Face the Hard Truth on Afghanistan, by Daniel L. Davis

The U.S. could have stayed in Afghanistan for 100 years and not won the war. From Daniel L. Davis at

We must resist the temptation to believe that if only the United States had done this or that differently, the war would have been won.

Editor’s note: In August, The National Interest organized a symposium on Afghanistan one year after the U.S. withdrawal and the Taliban takeover of Kabul. We asked a variety of experts the following question: “How should the Biden administration approach Afghanistan and the Taliban government?” The following article is one of their responses:

One year ago, the Afghan government and military disintegrated in one of the most remarkable, sudden, and widespread collapses in modern military history. Looking back, not just at the year since that collapse but the twenty years that preceded it, there are some important lessons for the United States to acknowledge. Key among them: foreign interventions to “promote democracy” and “fight terrorism” have been exposed as expensive failures. We fail to apply these lessons to our future peril.

Just before midnight in Kabul on August 30, 2021, Maj. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, left the tarmac to board a U.S. C-17 military transport, becoming the final U.S. servicemember to leave Afghan soil. After twenty years of blood, sacrifice, and futility, the American military had withdrawn from Afghanistan—with the victorious Taliban watching from the Kabul government buildings they had captured.

As one who deployed to Afghanistan over the course of two combat tours, watching the mission literally disintegrate before my eyes last August was a bitter pill, to say the least. Especially during my 2010-2011 combat deployment, I had traveled thousands of miles throughout the areas in northern, eastern, central, and southern Afghanistan where U.S. Army troops had been operating. I met hundreds of U.S. and allied soldiers and scores of Afghan citizens and military personnel.

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