Taliban fighters in an undisclosed location, Afghanistan, October 2009
Stringer Afghanistan / Reuters

The Taliban’s advance into Kabul and the collapse of the democratic government of Afghanistan unfolded with stunning speed over the course of a few weeks. The dizzying turn of events and the scenes of chaos and desperation that followed have understandably led to a torrent of questions about how things went so wrong so quickly. But the Taliban’s rapid success also has much to tell us about the prospects of their rule—both the considerable freedom the Taliban will likely have to enact their vision over the next few years and the steep challenges that will emerge as

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