The American empire in retreat

A future historian might look at the Afghan pullout in the wider context of the American imperium, much as Edward Gibbon did with the Roman empire.

US Army soldiers securing an area at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Aug 16 after Taliban forces took control of the capital city. PHOTO: AFP

(NYTIMES) In one of the more arresting videos that circulated after the fall of Kabul, a journalist follows a collection of Taliban fighters into a hangar containing abandoned, disabled US helicopters. Except that the fighters don't look like our idea of the Taliban: In their gear and guns and helmets (presumably pilfered), they look exactly like the American soldiers their long insurgency defeated.

As someone swiftly pointed out on Twitter, the hangar scene had a strong end-of-the-Roman Empire vibe, with the Taliban fighters standing for the Visigoths or Vandals who adopted bits and pieces of Roman culture even as they overthrew the empire.

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