Afghanistan Was Lost in the Halls of Harvard

Postmortems on Afghanistan are still focused on failures of the U.S. military and government, but before moving on, we should explore the more fundamental causes of this debacle.

Maybe because I have spent my life in education, I have always valued the observation, attributed to the Duke of Wellington, that “the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” The qualities developed in those British schoolboys produced the soldiering that defeated Napoleon’s forces. Since armies are typically made up of young people who go straight from school to the battlefield, the traits and habits necessary for winning wars must be already ingrained in those we expect to fight them. Afghanistan was lost in the halls of Harvard.


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