Rather than focus on how the U.S. got out of Afghanistan, focus on how it got in, washingtonpost.com

Katrina vanden Heuvel, columnist

While politicians and pundits debate “who lost Afghanistan,” that question will likely seem very distant from many Americans’ lives. Indeed, more than two-thirds supported the decision to withdraw. If anything, most Americans might wonder how the United States came to be in the position to “lose” Afghanistan in the first place?

There should be a serious accounting for the Afghanistan debacle. The United States waged its longest war in a distant, impoverished country of only minimal strategic importance. After two decades, more than 775,000 troops deployed, far more than $1 trillion spent, more than 2,300 U.S. deaths and 20,500 wounded in action, tens of thousands of Afghani civilian deaths, the United States managed to create little more than a kleptocracy, whose swift collapse culminated in the death and panic seen at the Kabul airport on Monday.

Rather than focusing on how we got out, it would be far wiser to focus on how we got in.

Under President George W. Bush, the early mission — to defeat al-Qaeda and get Osama bin Laden in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — quickly turned to nation-building. The United States would seek to build a democratic state in an impoverished country with entrenched divisions and cultural, language and religious traditions of which U.S. national security managers and military officials remained utterly ignorant. […]

We also need accountability and truth-telling in Congress. As Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) has proposed, it’s time for public hearings to probe the bureaucracy about its pattern of lying, while strengthening the War Powers Act and congressional oversight. Läs artikel