Seventeen years, 2,351 American dead, 20,094 wounded. These grim numbers scarcely begin to tell the story of the Afghanistan War, which marked its 17th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 7. It’s been a tragic failure, but for reasons few people understand.
A lot went wrong, but the common explanations fall short. Was the Afghanistan War a failure of the military? That’s false and unjust. Even granting mistakes and tactical errors, these pale in significance when you appreciate the vast military superiority of US forces and their coalition allies — compared with the Islamist fighters, known for their improvised explosive devices, Cold War-era rifles, and battered pickup trucks.
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