The atrocities accompanying the Israel-Hamas conflict have led many observers to ask if it makes sense to speak about the laws of war when armed actors seem only too willing to ignore them. But to say that the laws of war are ineffective is to misunderstand how they are meant to work—and do work—even when they seem to be ignored.
U.S. technical consultation with Taliban authorities is necessary to advance specific and urgent interests, such as out-migration of Afghans processed for U.S. residency. But senior overtures to Taliban leadership would require a shift in the policy landscape. That may explain some recent actions taken by the Biden administration.