The Taliban have achieved in hours what many would thought would take them at least months. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have folded like a house of cards. Kabul has fallen, and many provincial capitals too. And despite earlier protestations to the contrary, the Taliban is not looking to share power. After twenty years of international intervention, the loss of tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars of aid, many of the gains made have been rolled back in the blink of an eye.
Analyses of what went wrong will continue to emerge. Those who warned of the perils of history – regurgitating phrases like ‘graveyard of empires’ – or who raised concerns about flimsiness of the ANSF or who shook their heads about the ill-conceived nature of liberal state-building attempts may crow, but if they do, it should be without any pleasure. For what comes now?