距离奥萨马·本·拉登(Osama bin Laden)和基地组织于2001年9月11日对美国发动恐怖袭击，乔治·W·布什总统宣布美国将入侵阿富汗作为全球反恐战争的第一步，已经过去了近20年。现在，美国不得不应对如何界定与塔利班——它在2001年推翻的同一伊斯兰统治者——的关系，是复仇还是接受，以及如何试图阻止任何国际恐怖主义威胁从阿富汗卷土重来。
Now, there are smaller prospects of airstrikes in the Afghan countryside that leave the unnamed and faceless dead as data points in a colored bar graph of a barely read United Nations report. No roadside bombs buried in haste, in the dead of night, that might strike a government vehicle or a minibus packed with families.
Instead, there is a widespread anxiety about what the true shape of Taliban rule will be with the Americans truly gone. And there is fear that the chaotic rush of the government’s collapse during the Taliban advance could leave an unfixable economy, ruin and hunger.
The United States’ conflict in Afghanistan was a long war with a quick end, or so it seemed. But the withdrawal’s fate was set more than 18 months ago, when the Trump administration signed an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw from the country by May 1, 2021. In exchange, the Taliban agreed to stop attacking Americans, end mass-casualty attacks on Afghans in cities, and prevent Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups from finding refuge in the country.
The Taliban’s leverage, earned after years of fighting the world’s most advanced military, multiplied as they captured more remote outposts and checkpoints, then rural villages and districts, then the roads in between them. By the beginning of this year, the Taliban had positioned themselves near several key cities, as the newly inaugurated Biden administration weighed whether to honor the agreement made under President Donald J. Trump to depart.
在与世界上最先进的军队作战多年后，塔利班占领了更多偏远的前哨和检查站，然后是乡村和地区，然后是连结它们的道路，这大幅增加了他们的谈判资本。到今年年初，塔利班已驻扎在几个主要城市附近，而新上任的拜登政府正在权衡是否履行在唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)总统领导下达成的撤军协议。
Afghan troops fled more than fought, but those who were killed with their chests facing their enemy died for a cause that not even their leaders seemed to believe in.
Even before Mr. Biden’s announcement and Mr. Trump’s deal with the Taliban, the United States had been in stages of withdrawal since December 2009, when President Barack Obama announced both a surge of tens of thousands troops and their departure by 2014.