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The Editors

The US Can’t Afford Any More Illusions in Afghanistan

One year after the country fell to the Taliban, simply forestalling the worst would be no small achievement.

Less cruel, but not by much.

Less cruel, but not by much.

Photographer: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images

One year ago, Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in part because the US had hoped for the best after withdrawing its forces from the country, without adequately preparing for the worst. In dealing with the Taliban today, President Joe Biden’s administration can afford no such illusions.

The past 12 months should’ve dispelled any optimism about the new regime. In its second turn in power, the Taliban again seems willing to host foreign terrorists, including former al-Qaeda chieftain Ayman al-Zawahiri, killed by a US drone strike in the heart of Kabul. Those Taliban leaders who favor less barbaric social policies — such as allowing girls to attend school — aren’t willing to challenge their more conservative counterparts over them.