Strategy must be long-term

From the beginning of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation years ago, American intelligence and political officials made enormous mistakes. They picked the wrong people to trust and to assist and underestimated our enemies.

Such mistakes in dealing with Afghanistan are common. Ask the Russians or, for that matter, the British.

But U.S. errors helped the Taliban take over Afghanistan, then serve as a safe haven for al-Qaida terrorists. Now, new threats including a Taliban resurgence, renewed al-Qaida activity and a presence by the Islamic State demand U.S. attention.

Last week it was revealed military activity against the Islamic State in Afghanistan was increased. During a three-week period, 20 U.S. airstrikes were launched against the group. Twenty strikes in 21 days is what the current White House considers a major change.

But if action against the Islamic State in Afghanistan really does intensify, it will be critical for U.S. officials to be certain they understand and prioritize the multiple threats in that country and ensure those claiming to help us really are doing so. Otherwise, history will repeat itself – and we cannot afford that.

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