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The Great Collapse

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Add to Bookmarks Aug 19, 2021 The implosion of Afghanistan’s government, propped up for two decades by the United States and its allies, recalls Ernest Hemingway’s description of how someone goes bankrupt: “Gradually and then suddenly.” Now that the Taliban have returned to power, observers are scrambling to understand why it happened and what it will mean for Afghans and the world. In this Big Picture, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, faults US President Joe Biden for not recognizing that avoiding defeat in Afghanistan had

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The implosion of Afghanistan’s government, propped up for two decades by the United States and its allies, recalls Ernest Hemingway’s description of how someone goes bankrupt: “Gradually and then suddenly.” Now that the Taliban have returned to power, observers are scrambling to understand why it happened and what it will mean for Afghans and the world.

In this Big Picture, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, faults US President Joe Biden for not recognizing that avoiding defeat in Afghanistan had become more important than attaining victory. Likewise, Brahma Chellaney of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi blames Biden’s decision to withdraw all US forces for the Afghan military’s inability to resist the Taliban’s advances, and notes that this was the second time in two years that America abandoned a besieged ally.

But Charles Kupchan of Georgetown University says that Biden was right to pull the plug on the Afghan government, and that the entire Western strategy was flawed from the outset, insofar as the goal was to establish a unitary, centralized state. For

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