Here is what our coverage today of the crisis in Afghanistan is not about: It is not about political figures trashing the president or how 2022 midterm campaigns will use the messy exit as a cudgel against opponents. And there are no pundits opining about the “optics” of what is going on.

What we offer instead is trenchant analysis. Two experts – one a scholar long-experienced in foreign affairs, the other a security policy and politics analyst – provide critical insights on the history of the Afghanistan conflict and how over two decades it led, ultimately, to the terrible images of chaos and death we have seen over the past few days.

Gordon Adams, of the American University School of International Service, ranges through three failed wars fought by the U.S. – Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan – and concludes that the same motivating force led the country into all of them: hubris. “Afghanistan is now the poster child for the sense that the U.S. can remake the world,” writes Adams, who calls that belief “delusional.”

UMass Lowell scholar Arie Perliger complements Adams’ analysis. He notes that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan stemmed from a misguided approach “in which military seizures of territory are intended to fight international extremist movements and ideologies.” The problem, writes Perliger, is “military organizations are not equipped or trained” to build democracies and political institutions.

Also today:

Tomorrow afternoon at 4:00PM EDT/1:00PM PDT, The Conversation will be hosting a webinar on the topic of “Women’s Transformative Power in Higher Education and Beyond” with three leaders in the field. You can find out more and RSVP here.

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

U.S. troops in Afghanistan had better equipment, training and funding than the Taliban. AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

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