By Greg Myre, Sep 8, 2021
So what have we learned in the 20 years since 9/11?
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan encapsulated much of the past two decades. A war that began remarkably well for the U.S. had long since turned messy, frustrating and complicated, expanding to include a sprawling mix of goals and aspirations that never really went according to plan.
The global war on terror. The invasion of Iraq. Nation building. Black site prisons and Guantanamo Bay. Drone strikes across the Islamic world. Feuds over domestic surveillance and privacy. The rise of bitter partisan politics in the United States.
Many books have documented these developments, and more are on the way. Here we point to three strong new offerings that provide a detailed accounting of events that have largely defined the U.S. role in the world in the first part of the 21st century: The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden by Peter Bergen, The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War by Craig Whitlock, and The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence by Douglas London.
None makes for cheery reading, but all offer sobering lessons.