The global order that America helped to establish in the second half of the 20th century is changing fast. In this collection of commentaries, global thinkers examine the sources of America’s power and the forces changing it. They offer predictions and prescriptions for the future. The series looks broadly at America’s power, from its chaotic abandonment of Afghanistan to the rise of China. It also considers the internal forces at work in the United States.
“This just proves one more time to Afghans that international mechanisms do not value their life when foreigners are involved and international forces are involved,” Shaharzad Akbar, who chaired Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission until the Taliban took control of the country in August, told The Intercept. “This decision reinforces the perception that these institutions set up in the West and by the West are just instruments for the West’s political agenda.”
“How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.” That’s the title of a new book examining a part of the U.S. that is often overlooked: the nation’s overseas territories from Puerto Rico to Guam, former territories like the Philippines, and its hundreds of military bases scattered across the globe. We speak with the book’s author, Daniel Immerwahr, who writes, “At various times, the inhabitants of the U.S. Empire have been shot, shelled, starved, interned, dispossessed, tortured and experimented on. What they haven’t been, by and large, is seen.” Immerwahr is an associate professor of history at Northwestern University.
The Taliban have returned to power in Afghanistan after two decades. Over the next few weeks and months, a host of foreign nations with a stake in the country’s future will have to make a very tough choice: grant legitimacy to a regime that has committed atrocities against its own people, or risk the potential fallout of turning Afghanistan into the isolated, drug-running state sponsor of terror it was prior to US occupation. For some, the decision will depend on how the Taliban behave, while others seem to have already made up their mind.
Here are a few arguments on both sides of the international recognition debate.
*Read this piece and read again and then again then subscribe to Glenn Greenwald’s substack*
Using the same deceitful tactics they pioneered in Vietnam, U.S. political and military officials repeatedly misled the country about the prospects for success in Afghanistan.
None of this was true. It was always a lie, designed first to justify the U.S’s endless occupation of that country and, then, once the U.S. was poised to withdraw, to concoct a pleasing fairy tale about why the prior twenty years were not, at best, an utter waste. That these claims were false cannot be reasonably disputed as the world watches the Taliban take over all of Afghanistan as if the vaunted “Afghan national security forces” were china dolls using paper weapons. But how do we know that these statements made over the course of two decades were actual lies rather than just wildly wrong claims delivered with sincerity?
As the Taliban waltzes into Kabul, the look of surprise on the faces of top officials should frighten us most of all
The pattern is always the same. We go to places we’re not welcome, tell the public a confounding political problem can be solved militarily, and lie about our motives in occupying the country to boot. Then we pick a local civilian political authority to back that inevitably proves to be corrupt and repressive, increasing local antagonism toward the American presence.
Wisdom of Crowds Podcast: Afghanistan and the End of American Empire
With Kabul close to collapse, Shadi and Damir argue about the nature of the multiple screwups in Afghanistan, both long-term and of more recent vintage. What exactly is Biden doing wrong? Should we stay a bit longer, and if so, to what end? And what lessons should Americans learn from all if it?