Ever since the August 2021 suicide bombings at Kabul’s international airport, the Islamic State-Khorasan has continued to make headlines with gruesome attacks in Afghanistan, in an effort to portray itself as resurgent. The reality is more complicated, and there is a real possibility that IS-K is actually in decline.
In August, the U.S. military announced a plan to reduce civilian casualties, embedding it as a concern at every level of preparation and operations. But the U.S. has always professed to take civilian casualties seriously, which raises the question of why it is now issuing a formal plan to do so and what changes might result from it.
Critics call the Afghanistan withdrawal one of the biggest failures of President Joe Biden’s administration. Afghanistan was indeed a failure of U.S. foreign policy. But the failure was not in how the U.S. left Afghanistan in August 2021. Rather it was in the fact that U.S. forces were still in Afghanistan in August 2021.