Last week’s turn of events in Afghanistan has been utterly shocking but hardly surprising.
The Taliban’s blistering takeover of the country’s main cities was breathtaking in its speed and ease, culminating in their march on the capital almost unopposed as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
It was expected, yes, but no so rapidly, so victoriously, so humiliatingly.
Since the war began almost 20 years ago, successive US administrations have ignored the writing on the wall, prolonging the inevitable, while failing to prepare for it.
It took the US and its allies only two months to “liberate” Kabul from the grip of the Taliban in 2001, and less than two years for the smug Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to declare at a news conference in Kabul on May 1, 2003, that “major combat activity” was over.
But it was not over. Not by any measure.