Friday’s admission by the Biden administration that an August drone strike in Kabul accidentally killed an Afghan aid worker and his children demonstrated the limits of “over the horizon” counterterror operations. Such strikes can either scrupulously avoid Afghan civilian casualties or effectively protect American civilians—not both. Policy makers who think otherwise are misinformed.
In the second half of the 20th century, most U.S. presidents and civilian national security officials had spent time in uniform. They had a sense of what the military can and can’t do. Some actually had fingertip feel of what happens when America goes to war. Since 9/11, however, combat veterans have been conspicuously underrepresented among senior Washington policy makers. The Biden administration seems especially underresourced when it comes to battlefield experience.