Historians describe Afghanistan as the graveyard of empires. The British, Soviets — and now — the US, each failed to understand how its complex mix of language, history and culture would rupture an outsider’s zeal to fundamentally change this ancient country.

Afghanistan is too diverse for a simple takeover. It has two major languages, 40 minor ones, with over 200 dialects and a long history of fighting occupiers. (The U.S. trained and armed the Mujahideen to oust the Soviets in the 1980s. These same folks fought us two decades later.)

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I hope we have finally learned our lesson.

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