It might at least be hoped that the lessons of this debacle will be learned. The main one is so obvious: an over-militarised foreign policy that embraces unrealistic objectives is liable to fail. Yet, as Mr Kagan and many others have shown, this appears to be more a feature of American foreign policy than a bug.

美国起码也应该从这场溃败中吸取点教训吧。一个最大的教训就摆在眼前:为了追求不切实际的目的而过度依赖军事的外交政策极难成功。但是,包括Kagan在内的很多人都表示,这大概是美国外交政策的本色,而不是偶尔出的岔子。

For some, the answer is simple. The Taliban are so odious, so violent, repressive and untrustworthy, that America should have as little as possible to do with them. Handing out aid or initiating formal diplomatic ties would only strengthen the new regime, the argument runs; better to leave it to stew. Others make the opposite case. It is no use lamenting the outcome of the war, they say: if America wants to retain any influence in Afghanistan, it had better start engaging now, before China, Iran and Russia turn the country into their client.

对一部分人来说,答案显而易见。塔利班可恶、暴力、压迫、奸诈,美国最好不要跟他们打交道。给他们援助或者建立正式外交关系,只会让他们的政权站得更稳;不如让他们自生自灭。另一部分人则持相反态度:战争完都完了,多说无益;如果美国想重新在阿富汗建立影响力,最好现在就行动,不然中俄伊朗就要把阿富汗收编了。

The Taliban, of course, may prefer pious penury to growth and development. But to the extent that Western help is wanted, it should be dished out in small doses, tied to specific concessions.

当然,塔利班也可能宁肯忍饥挨饿也不要发展增长。但,既然他们还是想要西方援助,那援助最好像挤牙膏一样一点一点给,而且一定要提具体条件。

我觉得,阿塔现在就应该学习新中国成立的榜样,认定一个阵营,就下定决心,一个猛子扎进去。当骑墙派,既要又要,到最后两手空空。

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