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What Comes Next in Afghanistan

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Fifty years ago, John Kerry asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a question that is probably occurring to many Americans right now: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Yesterday, at least 13 U.S. service members died in an attack on a crowd of Afghans seeking evacuation from Kabul’s airport. They died saving their allies from persecution or murder by the Taliban. This was no mistake, although their deaths were the result of a war in which the United States made just about every mistake possible. It was among the noblest moments of the war, and because it killed them and nearly a hundred Afghans, also one of its most tragic.

The perpetrator was the Islamic State’s local franchise, sometimes called ISIS-K or IS-K, for the group’s Khorasan offshoot in Afghanistan. Some have also sought to blame the Taliban, who control Kabul and are responsible for the attackers’ getting through the checkpoints that led to the edge of the airport. The Taliban have bombed crowds in Kabul, and among their members are many who believe that Americans and their collaborators deserve death and more. Even senior U.S. officials confuse these groups: Last week, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta told NPR he expected the Taliban to “provide a safe haven for al-Qaeda, for ISIS, and for terrorism in general.”

Mike Jason: What we got wrong in Afghanistan

Yet the Taliban claim that 28 of their own soldiers were killed in the........

© The Atlantic

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