The Americans have been in Afghanistan for very nearly twenty years. They didn’t charge in to defeat the Taliban dominated Afghan government but to kill Osama bin Laden. They made one hell of a meal of that and eventually had to go, uninvited, into Pakistan to do it. The West actually had no quarrel with the Afghan government initially other than that it gave a home to Al-Qaeda. A big “other” admittedly.
The Neocons changed a specific task driven invasion into Regime Change. As in Iraq this has ended in disaster. The US has a long record of failure in its Regime change ambitions. To defeat a government or system you disapprove of may be a noble thing but it can and usually does have unintended consequences. Around the world there are some pretty sordid governments of which the Taliban was just one. Will the US at last learn that it has neither the diplomatic skills nor the capability or the local and international support and credibility to be the planet’s moral policeman?
The evidence of 9/11 was, of course, that Al-Qaeda operating from Afghanistan and protected by the Taliban was an existential threat to the world. But removing its head may not have removed the threat. To have the Taliban restored increases the risk but the extent of this is unknown. A modern terrorist is as likely to operate from a house in Plymouth as from a cave in Afghanistan.
For the West still to be spouting certitudes about freedom and democracy and point the finger, or a weapon, at governments it doesn’t like is surely passé, as well as dangerous. America’s diplomacy is also at a low point. Teddy Roosevelt said “Speak softly and carry a big stick”. Neither seems to work any more.