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Authoritarian Alliances & the Future of the Free World | GZERO World

Authoritarian alliances & the future of the free world

Elliot Ackerman's new book about the US exit from Afghanistan is called The Fifth Act.

But what comes next for America in the region?

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A US Military Vet Reckons with America's Failures in Afghanistan | Elliot Ackerman | GZERO World

A US military vet reckons with America's failures in Afghanistan

On Aug. 15, 2021, the Taliban swept back to power in Afghanistan, after the US departed following two decades of war. Ian Bremmer speaks to former Marine and author Elliot Ackerman on GZERO World. According to Ackerman, when it comes to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US had a degree of objectivity it had lost after 20 years in Afghanistan. The war, he explained, had come to define our military thinking and intelligence capability because the US was involved there for such a long time.

The US could have done a better job getting out of Afghanistan, according to Ackerman. Requests for an evacuation plan fell on deaf ears in the Pentagon and the White House, especially when it came to securing visas for Afghans who had helped the US military effort.

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Taliban fighters hold Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan flags on the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul.

REUTERS/Ali Khara

Jihadists, liberators, or administrators of Afghanistan? The Taliban respond.

The Taliban celebrated the anniversary of their return to power in Afghanistan last week.

They assembled at Bagram airbase, the last military outpost of the 20-year American occupation. Flags were hoisted, leftover US military equipment was displayed, and Taliban soldiers wore uniforms shed by fleeing forces loyal to the former government. Speeches were made, and the Quran was recited.

But not much was said about the continued suppression of women, the escalating violence, or the near-universal poverty Afghans find themselves in today.

So, where does the regime stand, and why should the international community trust the Taliban despite this dismal record? We interviewed Suhail Shaheen, the group's international spokesperson and head of its political office in Qatar. (He’s technically also the UN ambassador, but the world body doesn't recognize the Taliban as the legitimate Afghan government.)

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The Volunteer US Military & America's Shame Post-Afghanistan | GZERO World

The volunteer US military & America's shame post-Afghanistan

For Elliot Ackerman, leaving no man behind was part of his code of honor when he was first a US marine and later a CIA officer. But the US military principle was not followed when American troops departed Afghanistan a year ago.

"There was no process to get our allies out," he tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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Ian Explains: The Taliban Surprise & Ongoing Afghan Agony | GZERO World

The Taliban surprise & ongoing Afghan agony

On Aug. 15, 2021, the Taliban swept back to power in Afghanistan. By the end of the month, US forces had departed after two decades of war.

President Joe Biden made good on his promise to bring the troops home before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. But the withdrawal was very messy, and Afghan institutions and army were not ready to resist the Taliban.

A year on, the country remains in shambles, Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World.

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US Afghanistan Withdrawal: a “Digital Dunkirk” | GZERO World

US Afghanistan withdrawal: a “digital Dunkirk”

Could the US have done a better job at getting out of Afghanistan?

Certainly, says former US marine and CIA officer Elliot Ackerman, who recalls how calls for an evacuation plan fell on deaf ears in the Pentagon and the White House. Expediting the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Afghan allies could have been handled better as well.

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Vet Compares Us Intel on Afghanistan Withdrawal vs. Ukraine Invasion | GZERO World

NATO's darkest chapter: Afghanistan withdrawal (in contrast to unity supporting Ukraine)

The intelligence may have been there - but the ability to draw conclusions unbiased by what Americans needed to believe was not, says Elliot Ackerman, a former US marine who served four tours in Afghanistan and has just come out with a book on the American pullout from Afghanistan called "The Fifth Act."

America's chaotic withdrawal a year ago stands in stark contrast to the highly coordinated US and NATO response to Russia's war. On GZERO World, Ackerman tells Ian Bremmer that when it comes to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US had a degree of objectivity it had lost after 20 years in Afghanistan. The war, he explained, had come to define our military thinking and intelligence capability because the US was involved there for such a long time.

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Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: How do the Taliban keep the lights on?

Diplomatically isolated and cut off from foreign aid, the Taliban have struggled to find enough cash to keep the government running since the group took over Afghanistan in Aug. 2021. But they've proven surprisingly adept at raising money from the now-banned opium trade, selling coal to neighboring countries, and taxing imports at the border. Still, this is nowhere near enough to cover their annual budget, and an estimated 97% of Afghans could be living below the poverty line by the end of this year. Here's a snapshot of the Taliban's main sources of revenue.

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