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The US recovered from the fall of Saigon in 1975 but a post-Afghanistan comeback will be more difficult

Written by on 31/08/2021

With its last soldier home from Afghanistan, America can take stock and reflect.

Its withdrawal was never likely to be elegant and dignified but it has been much messier than expected.

Joe Biden must live with the consequences of an operation that has seemed rushed, chaotic and stained in blood:

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Taliban fighters take full control of Kabul’s airport

• The remains of 13 American service personnel, killed in a suicide bombing, landing back on US soil

• Ten members of the same Afghan family, innocent civilians, appear to have been killed in a US drone strike

• The impression of the world’s greatest military sent packing from Afghanistan by an Islamist guerrilla army

History will decide on the lasting impact these have on America’s power and influence, and the rest of the free world’s with it.

More on Afghanistan

America emerged from the Cold War an undisputed lone superpower.

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Armed Taliban fighters surround TV presenter

A two-decade war on terror and two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have squandered so much of that legacy with so little to show for it.

America’s two-decade Afghan mission has strengthened its rivals as much as it has weakened its own standing in the world.

Others have been able to watch and learn from America’s mistakes. Russia, China and Iran have been able to adjust military tactics and hardware accordingly.

Allies’ confidence in the US has been undermined. This may have consequences when the US needs to build coalitions in future – over Taiwan for instance.

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The last American soldier has left Afghanistan

Comparisons have been drawn with Vietnam. America recovered from the fall of Saigon it has been pointed out, eventually going on to prevail over communism in the Cold War.

It also has an impressive ability to reinvent itself and recover from adversity.

But after Vietnam, America’s economic supremacy was unchallenged for decades.

That’s no longer the case.

It is vying with China for economic and geopolitical dominance and the last few weeks have only weakened its position and reinforced the narrative of its decline.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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