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A US veteran on the “betrayal” of leaving Afghans behind

Former US Army Captain Matt Zeller owes his life to an Afghan interpreter and resents what he sees as the Biden administration's decision to let the Taliban dictate the terms of the withdrawal. He asks Americans to think about all the Afghans who got left behind despite risking their own lives to help US forces. "Put yourself in their shoes," urges Zeller, who has a sobering message for America after leaving Afghanistan: "We're now going to carry a moral injury that will never abate. A scar that will never disappear." Watch his visceral testimonial on this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

Watch the episode: Afghanistan, 2021: Afghan & US military perspectives as the last soldier leaves

Afghanistan, 2021: Afghan & US military perspectives as the last soldier leaves

Two decades of war in Afghanistan came to a tragic close on August 31 as President Joe Biden announced from the White House that the last US troops had left the country. "I was not going to extend this forever war," Biden said, "and I was not extending a forever exit." On GZERO World, we hear from three people whose lives have been forever changed by the conflict. First, a women's education activist hiding from the Taliban inside Afghanistan, moving every night for her own safety. Then, the former Afghan Central Bank governor, now in exile who barely made it out (and lost a shoe in the process). And finally, a former US Army Captain and CIA intelligence officer whose life was saved by his Afghan interpreter and who is now in a desperate race to help Afghans and their families get out of the country.

Biden's mistakes in Afghanistan were not "dereliction of duty"

In his latest Washington Post op-ed, Marc Thiessen makes strong statements about how and why the Taliban came to take control of Kabul. There have been big mistakes in executing this exit. But "dereliction of duty?" Not in our view. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst explain why in this edition of The Red Pen.

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US on track for August 31 withdrawal; House passes $3.5T plan

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Is the US on track for the August 31st withdrawal from Afghanistan?

The US is actually doing a pretty good job, getting its own citizens out of Afghanistan despite the chaos that's been seen at the airport and across the country over the last two weeks. It's estimated on Wednesday afternoon, there were about 1,500 citizens of the United States, still in Afghanistan. And some of them, according to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, may not want to leave. The US has been evacuating enormous numbers in the last several days. Over 21,000 people have gotten out. And even though Biden sent his CIA director, William Burns, to potentially negotiate a longer withdrawal date than August 31st with the Taliban, he says, he's going to stick to this deadline. The people who may not get out are the interpreters and helpers that aided the American military, who are native Afghanis, who are probably going to be left behind when the US leaves at the end of the month.

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The Graphic Truth: Whose troops are still in Afghanistan?

As the Biden administration scrambles to get US troops and nationals, as well as some Afghans, out of the Taliban-controlled country by August 31, other countries with troops under NATO command — including close US allies like Germany and the UK — are feeling extremely jilted. Forces from 36 countries remain in Afghanistan, and are relying on the US military — which controls the interior of Kabul's airport — to safely get out. As the clock ticks down, we take a look at which foreign nations have boots on the ground in Afghanistan.

Is the US military investing in the wrong kinds of weapons?

In comparing the American military defense spending to China's, former US admiral and best-selling author James Stavridis is concerned that the US is too focused on legacy systems. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, he discusses the role of the private sector in the development of US defense capabilities and the need to move towards higher end technologies, which he says China has already done. "They get to make decisions and move out with big land armies, tanks, aircraft carriers in ways we are retarded from doing by the messiness, as wonderful as it is, of our democratic system," Stavridis points out.

Watch the episode: What could spark a US-China war?

Will China become the world’s dominant military power?

America's chief adversary on the global stage is no longer Russia. It's China—a country that has experienced astronomical growth in the last few decades, with an economy that's expanded by $12 trillion dollars in the last fifteen years alone. Much of that economic growth is going straight into military spending, with a defense budget that's seen a nearly seven-fold increase over the past twenty years. And yet, its military spending still pales in comparison to that of the United States. But despite all the money that both nations have pumped into fancy new battleships and armored tanks, they also understand that a key paradigm shift in 21st century warfare is already well underway: The decisive battles of the future will largely be fought—and won or lost—in cyberspace. Ian Bremmer explains where the US stands in this competition.

Watch the GZERO World episode: What could spark a US-China war?

How China plans to achieve global military dominance

The US still enjoys military superiority over China, but for how long? Retired admiral James Stavridis believes it's important to understand how determined China is to establish global dominance. The Chinese defense budget is focused on strategic initiatives including offensive cyber, militarizing space and quantum computing. Furthermore, China's approach to education is intended to secure an advantage. "They're pumping out huge numbers of people with advanced degrees. They're investing government resources into the kind of R&D that we should be doing more of here in the United States," Stavridis tells Ian Bremmer in a GZERO World interview.

Watch the episode: What could spark a US-China war?

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