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Another day, another death in Afghanistan (VIDEO)

The mayor of Kandahar was not your typical Afghan official. Here's a closer look.

Stewart then catalogues the failure of the international intervention in Afghanistan: the cascading billions that have spawned corruption and “co-opted almost everybody,” robbing the Afghan government of the power to set its own priorities and turning development specialists into willing partners in hoodwinking the public.

Stewart dismisses worries that Afghanistan poses an “existential threat” to the international community. He ridicules the “litany of astonishing optimism” promoted by a succession of international leaders who have heralded every year since 2004 as “the decisive year” and have promised what they could not possibly deliver.

This blind faith in the future that the international community professes to espouse has undermined all efforts to help Afghanistan, he warned. By ignoring the dangers, we make it less likely that we can avoid them.

“The worst thing we have done in Afghanistan is this idea that failure is not an option,” he said. “ It makes failure invisible, inconceivable, and inevitable.”