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China, Africa, and the U.S. Fiasco in Afghanistan

Afghan men stand next to a torn poster of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021. Wakil Kohsar / AFP

We all woke up to a different world today with the shocking images of Monday’s bungled U.S. evacuation from Kabul still overflowing our social media feeds and this nagging feeling that something big, really big happened that we still don’t fully understand.

Washington will now devour itself with recriminations and investigations that will be all-consuming. America’s critics in Europe and Asia will find new audiences to question the wisdom of relying on Washington for their protection. And, Washington’s rivals in Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing are no doubt overjoyed to criticize yet another humiliating U.S. military defeat. But unlike Saigon in 1975, this retreat was broadcast in near-real-time and provided a bounty of powerful images that will be used to craft a potent anti-U.S. narrative for years to come.

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