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“The Afghan disaster and the specter of decadence”

Tribune. Twenty years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the abandonment of Afghanistan will have formidable consequences. Already, as after the Vietnam War, the specter of decadence haunts America. In fact, Europe cannot pose as an outside observer. Since the end of World War II, the United States has ruled an informal empire that unites Western nations. Their destinies are linked.

At first glance, the geostrategic redeployment desired by Washington is not, however, devoid of rationality. The rise of the People’s China, the revisionist aims of “Russia-Eurasia” as well as Iranian ambitions in the Middle East foreshadow a grouping of “disruptive states” capable of upsetting geopolitical balances. Also, the “long war” against terrorism can be a costly strategic diversion.

Stretching from the “Asian Mediterranean” (South and East China Seas) to the shores of the Arab-Persian Gulf and East Africa, a new spatial set is required for analysis: the Indo-Pacific region. There would be determined the balance of power of the XXIe century. Threatened to once again become a small cape of Asia, Europe and its nations cannot avoid this great ordeal. Even less France, with its territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Without the American alliance, it will be difficult for it to contain Chinese pressure on its maritime domain.

“From Afghanistan to the Sahel, from the Gulf of Guinea to the Horn of Africa, to South-East Asia itself, the ‘long war’ will continue.

From such a perspective, the disinterest in Afghanistan, at the heart of the Eurasian land mass, is understandable. Was it not time to cut this “Gordian knot” and to postpone the effort towards the Indo-Pacific? This is what Joe Biden wanted to mean in his speech on August 16. Yet maintaining a limited US force and NATO contingents was possible, if not necessary. The discourse that poses the Taliban as objective allies of the West against Al-Qaida and the Islamic State leaves room for doubt. And from Afghanistan to the Sahel, from the Gulf of Guinea to the Horn of Africa, to South-East Asia itself, the “Long war” will last.

In addition, the departure from Afghanistan will have repercussions in other parts of the world. Let us agree: this decision will not automatically lead to the abandonment of Taiwan or the Ukraine. And if American prestige is achieved, the “reputation” of a state is not the alpha and omega of the balance of power. With the exasperation of international rivalries, the raw factors of power prove to be more important than the soft power, uncertain concept too often called. From this angle, it would be hasty to think that American power is liquefying.

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