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Afghan security personnel gather next to the vehicle that was used in a suicide bombing in Kabul on November 16, 2017, killing at least nine people. Photo: Shah Marai / AFP / Getty Images

Since recent attacks in Kabul have come amid a low point in U.S.–Pakistan relations, they have been viewed as a possible signal of displeasure from Pakistan’s military establishment—known for close links with militant groups—over the Trump administration’s cuts in security assistance.

Yet what they most reveal is the resilience of the Taliban, which still has the power to inflict mass civilian casualties, and the inability of the U.S and allied forces, despite greater conventional military strength, to do anything to prevent these attacks. Meanwhile, Pakistan maintains it has lost leverage after launching its own domestic counterinsurgency campaigns geared toward eliminating Taliban safe havens.

Why it matters: The only way to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan is to prioritize a political solution that includes the Taliban. While the United States has been open to holding talks with the Taliban in the past, President Trump declared after the latest attacks that the U.S. will not talk to the Taliban. Such a stance will not only prolong U.S. engagement in Afghanistan but jeopardize any chances for achieving a stable peace.

Sahar Khan is a visiting research fellow in the Cato Institute's Defense and Foreign Policy Department. 

Go deeper

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.

The Supreme Court's abortion showdown arrives

Protesters gather at the Supreme Court during arguments about the Texas abortion law Nov. 1. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Supreme Court will debate today whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, and neither side is trying to lower the stakes — or to make today’s case anything less than a referendum on Roe’s very survival.

The big picture: Conventional wisdom, on both the left and right, says the court is likely to chip away at abortion rights without overturning its precedents outright. But neither side has spent much time trying to help the justices thread that needle.

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