Leaving the ESPN Zone of Empires
Biden and Trump are both right; it's time to move on
Joe Biden, apparently in defiance of much of the top military brass, has committed to removing the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan over the summer.
There is a very strong consensus among analysts that this means the Taliban will overrun the Afghan government and reassert control over the country. If that’s right, it will naturally lead to a new round of takes about how Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires,” as once again an arrogant superpower proved unable to assert control over this remote and rugged landscape.
But over a decade ago, when the Obama administration was deliberating on Afghanistan, I suggested that a better analogy might be that it’s the ESPN Zone of empires — initially intriguing, but on further examination, expensive and pointless, so you leave. Twelve years later, ESPN Zone has been out of business for a long time and the United States is finally ready to go.
The ESPN Zone of Empires
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