Does the Great Retreat from Afghanistan Mark the End of the American Era? | The New Yorker

It’s not just an epic defeat for the United States. The fall of Kabul may serve as a bookend for the era of U.S. global power. In the nineteen-forties, the United States launched the Great Rescue to help liberate Western Europe from the powerful Nazi war machine. It then used its vast land, sea, and air power to defeat the formidable Japanese empire in East Asia. Eighty years later, the U.S. is engaged in what historians may someday call a Great Retreat from a ragtag militia that has no air power or significant armor and artillery, in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Source: Does the Great Retreat from Afghanistan Mark the End of the American Era? | The New Yorker

We have, I believe, proven again that we cannot successfully intervene in civil wars in far-flung countries in which the established governments are as corrupt and inept as those who are attempting to wrest power from them. Every country that went into Afganistan has left with mud on its face at the cost of many dollars and many lives.

This New Yorker op ed asks a cogent question. Can the U.S. survive another Vietnam-style defeat? I don’t think so. Some say the unexpected collapse of just about everything in Afganistan occurred because the U.S. was operating with bad intel. I suggest we were operating with zero intel. Did any sane official or military commander think when we went into that country in 2001 that we would be there so long, spend so much money, sacrifice so many lives, and then emerge saying, “By God, that was worth it?”

If so, how naïve they must have been, and continued to be up until this very moment.

–Malcolm

The 2019 National Book Awards Longlist: Nonfiction 

Of the ten authors longlisted for this year’s National Book Award for Nonfiction, only Greg Grandin has previously been a nominee, for his 2009 book, “Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Jungle City.” This year, Grandin was selected for “The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America,” which Francisco Cantú praised for its efforts “to situate today’s calls to fortify our borders in relation to the centuries of racial animus that preceded them.”

Source: The 2019 National Book Awards Longlist: Nonfiction | The New Yorker

Fiction usually outsells nonfiction in books, though the opposite is true in the magazine and newspaper world. I notice that when people online or in real life sit around and talk about the books they’re reading, it’s mostly fiction they’re mentioning.

I read a lot of nonfiction if I see that it has a long-term value. That is, I don’t care much for books about current political issues because I think they’ll soon be out of date. But history itself, I like. Or philosophy or psychological theories.

At any rate, it’s always nice to see news stories about nonfiction books because they remind us nonfiction is out there and can often be just as compelling as a novel.

Malcolm

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