The spectre of Afghanistan looms over Ukraine

Afghanistan's mistakes cannot be repeated in Ukraine

Afghanistan and Ukraine are very different conflicts, but we must still learn from our previous failures. Just as we made a moral and strategic error rushing out of Afghanistan, it would be a terrible mistake to withdraw support for Ukraine while Russian aggression continues. It will make Russia Europe’s dominant military power and undermine liberal democracy. To avoid this, NATO allies need to stay the course, argues Laurie Bristow. The article is based on Bristow's experiences as Ambassador to Afghanistan, where he was the last man on the ground when the Taliban invaded. The story is told in his memoir, Kabul: Final Call.


In August 2021, the United States and its allies hastily retreated from Afghanistan. A twenty-year campaign ended with the Taliban back in control. NATO was not militarily defeated. It did not need to be. We failed through lack of will, lack of staying power, and lack of a coherent strategy. We paid a price, in terms of credibility with

Continue reading

Enjoy unlimited access to the world's leading thinkers.

Start by exploring our subscription options or joining our mailing list today.

Start Free Trial

Already a subscriber? Log in

Join the conversation