Afghanistan. Who hasn't seen the videos yet of locals clinging to the departing planes, desperate to get out as the Taliban completes its takeover?
As for the global response, here's how one overseas trader, Bill Blain, put it this morning:
"The credibility of Biden's foreign policy and his presidency went down in tatters over a shockingly fast timeframe--and that's got massive consequences for the future path of the dollar, the USA's monetary and economic dominance, the likelihood the US can undo the damage of the Trump years, and patching up US Allies to join against China."
In other words, this is much more a long-term than a short-term story of destabilization. (Hopefully.) As Gideon Rachman warned in the FT, "Beijing will welcome further evidence that the post-American world is upon us." In fact, the Chinese have already signaled their support of the new Taliban government.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
What is China's interest in the country that people bemoan is destined to be plagued by terrorism and tribal warfare? (A) Strategic--the more "clients" China has in the world, the bigger its influence over global affairs (especially as it relates to China's actions towards Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Uyghurs, or internal dissent). And (B) Geographic--China could build oil pipelines through Afghanistan towards the oil-rich Middle East, lessening its need for fuel from less friendly nations.
Russia, too, may relish the opportunity to further denigrate American influence. U.S. voters may understandably be weary of the spending, though only $14 billion was budgeted for Afghanistan this year. While nearly three-quarters of those who served supported a full withdrawal as of last year, there will now be nowhere else for U.S. forces to get combat experience.
How do you price in riskier geopolitics? That's more a question for the likes of Nassim Taleb. In the meantime, we'll hear from President Biden at 3:45 p.m. ET.
See you at 1 p.m!