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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.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.