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Facing reality is painful for the US and its allies


Experts from across Chatham House analyse the strategic and intelligence failures in Afghanistan, and the lasting effects on the US, UK, NATO and the EU.

Afghanistan goals were laudable but open-ended

Sir Simon Fraser

The outcome in Afghanistan should not have been a surprise, even if the way it happened was a shock. For foreign policy in general, and foreign military interventions in particular, it is essential to be clear about goals and the capacity to deliver. In Afghanistan, the US and its allies have fallen short on both these counts. 

This is a serious reversal for the US and its closest allies, but not a strategic disaster. The threat from Islamist terror will increase, but its significance is sometimes exaggerated and, to some extent, can be addressed by other means.

Afghanistan is a source of risk but not a first order geopolitical problem. Joe Biden’s reputation for competence and his liberal internationalist credentials are seriously damaged, but for most Americans he is still right on the big question – getting out.

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