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Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid delivers his first news conference from Kabul. Photo: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released (by coincidence) a new "Lessons Learned" report on Tuesday. My heart sank when I read the seven takeaways in "What We Need to Learn: Lessons from Twenty Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction." (The 11th in a series)

Why it matters: It's like we never knew or learned anything.

  1. "The U.S. government continuously struggled to develop and implement a coherent strategy for what it hoped to achieve."
  2. "The U.S. government consistently underestimated the amount of time required to rebuild Afghanistan, and created unrealistic timelines and expectations that prioritized spending quickly."
  3. "Many of the institutions and infrastructure projects the United States built were not sustainable."
  4. "Counterproductive civilian and military personnel policies and practices thwarted the effort."
  5. "Persistent insecurity severely undermined reconstruction efforts."
  6. "The U.S. government did not understand the Afghan context and therefore failed to tailor its efforts accordingly."
  7. "U.S. government agencies rarely conducted sufficient monitoring and evaluation to understand the impact of their efforts."

Go deeper: Interactive version ... Read the 140-page report.

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Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Sep 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Afghanistan's humanitarian paradox

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America stands ready to help the people of Afghanistan, while at the same time actively hindering the government of Afghanistan's ability to help its own citizens directly. That's the rather confused message sent by Secretary of State Tony Blinken in a major speech on Monday.

Why it matters: Afghanistan is a desperately poor country in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. There's no realistic way to get help to its citizens without the Taliban having some kind of access to that aid — they control the country, after all. But America's foreign policy seems to be predicated on that impossibility.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."