“Do we really suppose the Taliban, a rag-tag, disjointed militia hiding out in the hills, as we’ve so long been told, was able to execute such a sophisticated campaign plan with no international backing? Where do we suppose that campaign plan came from? Who gave the orders? … And lo. Karzai abruptly emerges from this vortex, at the head of a ‘coordinating committee’ that will negotiate the Taliban’s return to power? Again?” Sarah Chayes, a journalist, an adoptive Kandahari, and a former senior U.S. government official, with a reality check about our efforts in Afghanistan and denial about Pakistan’s role in all of this. The Ides of August.

+ “Whatever delusions existed about whether this would happen or how long it might take have been dispatched as efficiently as the Afghan security forces were by the Taliban over a single week. What little gains have been achieved in women’s rights, education, and poverty will be systematically eradicated. Any semblance of democracy will be lost. And while there might be ‘peace,’ it will come only after any remaining forces of opposition are overwhelmed or dead. The Taliban told us this. Or at least they told me.” Ian Fritz in The Atlantic: What I Learned While Eavesdropping on the Taliban.

+ Some members of Afghanistan’s all-girls robotics team have escaped to Qatar. A former Afghan women’s soccer captain tells players to burn kits, delete photos. And here’s the latest on the race against the clock from BBC.