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Life and Art Update

Passing through the 9/11 memorials and museums in Lower Manhattan, as I did for the first time earlier this week, is to reawaken the long-buried doubts, fears, justice, revenge, and revenge in about 90 minutes. eager. Then, in the end, sad and depressed.

There is also a sense of shame now. Seeing a U.S. military cargo plane taking off from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, desperate Afghans clung to its fuselage. This scene is at least the same as the U.S. withdrawal from its embassy in Saigon after the Vietnam War. Iconic images are just as scary, and maybe even more scary. war.

By Monday afternoon, it had already expressed its views on President Joe Biden’s disastrous end to the generational mission of Afghanistan’s elites: a historic collapse weakened America’s position in the world and unnecessarily endangered those who risked their lives. Danger helps our Afghans and will pass on the pain from generation to generation.

All of this may be so. However, I am not going to condemn Biden alone because of this disaster that has lasted 20 years, shaped by so many people, and fueled by so many delusions. Talking with the people around the holy place where the Twin Towers were once, sometimes I feel that the tragedy happened yesterday, and I feel similar fatalism.

Even if they cannot find the location of Kabul or Kandahar on the map, or cannot explain the difference between counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency strategies, many Americans seem to have long accepted that missions in Afghanistan and Iraq will never be satisfactory or incurable. Our wounds. Exiting would be ugly and incompetent seems a bit appropriate.

“It’s a heartache because I don’t think we should quit,” Patty Rykert said. “But I am also an American, and I think we should take care of our own affairs.”

For the 53-year-old Rykert, who is a lifelong New Yorker, there are various factors on both sides of the equation, many of which are personal factors. She lived nearby when Islamic terrorists flew the hijacked plane into the tower at the instigation of the Taliban. This week, the niece she was visiting brought to Ground Zero to help her understand the seriousness of the incident. Rykert said her brother had served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and believed that leaving would create a “playground” for terrorists.

On the other hand, she is a social worker and she understands that many Americans no longer believe in the plan to build a democratic Afghanistan, but want to heal their country. “I think he is doing what the rest of the United States really wants to do,” Reichert said of President Biden. “We are done. We have tried.”

“Take our children home. This is not our war,” Ed Guzman said without hesitation when asked whether the withdrawal was wise. He believes that if anyone wants to blame Biden, they should also be responsible for the “puppet Donald Trump” who agreed to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan last year as part of a “peace” plan with the Taliban.

In the next few days, the responsibilities will be shared among intelligence agencies. These agencies seem to have misjudged the speed at which the Taliban can defeat the Afghan army. The Pentagon has provided overly optimistic assessments of the war over the years, and politicians and diplomats insisted that this was an interest in staying in the United States. , But can never explain how we will leave.

I don’t rule it out, but it’s hard to imagine that the American public will support another foreign intervention in my lifetime.

I don’t know what other domestic effects the US military defeat will eventually have after so many sacrifices. As Kathleen Belew detailed in her book, Take the war homeIt was the defeat of the United States in Vietnam that led to the disillusioned veteran Louis Beam who created a new type of paramilitary force to pursue his concept of justice at home: violent white supremacy. She believes that Beam’s experience in Vietnam will eventually lead to the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing and the right-wing militia that attacked the U.S. Capitol in January. Who knows what will happen to pathogens that have fought and died in Afghanistan and Iraq for 20 years?

At the same time, we measure our politics through the news cycle. At this point, Robin Graham, who is visiting from Atlanta, does not believe that the Kabul incident will greatly change the serious differences in the United States. “I am a little sad to see what happened last week,” Graham said. She explained that she had hoped to leave in a different way, and then admitted: “But I don’t know how this will work.”

I’m not sure that many of us do this.

Joshua Chaffin Is a reporter based in New York for the Financial Times

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