Americans perceived the Afghan war as a stunning victory, and the failure at Tora Bora seemed like an unfortunate footnote to an otherwise upbeat story. Having reconstructed the battle—based on interviews with the top American ground commander, three Afghan commanders, and three CIA officials; accounts by Al Qaeda eyewitnesses that were subsequently published on jihadist websites; recollections of captured survivors who were later questioned by interrogators or reporters; an official history of the Afghan war by the U. Special Operations Command; an investigation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and visits to the battle sites themselves—I am convinced that Tora Bora constitutes one of the greatest military blunders in recent U. It was no accident that bin Laden had chosen to retreat to Tora Bora. Huthaifa Azzam, a Jordanian who was close to bin Laden during the anti-Soviet jihad, when both were crossing back and forth between Pakistan and Afghanistan, recalls that, in 1987, the Al Qaeda leader used bulldozers from his family’s construction company to build a road through the mountains.

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Bin Laden spent more than six months building the road.

That year, bin Laden engaged Soviet forces in a battle at Jaji.

If nothing is true, then all is spectacle." Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or communism. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book.

If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important.

Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Here are 20 lessons from across the fearful 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read?

It can feel strange to do or say something different. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

Learn about sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people.

It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust.