A Chinook helicopter flies over Zabul Province, Afghanistan, August 2004
Teun Voeten/Panos Pictures/Red​ux

The decision to withdraw the U.S. military from Afghanistan could have been made years ago or years hence: there was never going to be a perfect time, but the time has come, and President Joe Biden has made a difficult but right choice at a moment of historic shifts in global geopolitical realities. 

Since 2001, successive U.S. administrations have carried out foreign policy through the prism and primacy of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the global “war on terror” in the broader Middle East. While Washington’s attention was fixed on these concerns, China emerged as a

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