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August 31, 2021 23 min

On Monday night, after a 20-year war that claimed 170,000 lives, cost over $2 trillion and did not defeat the Taliban, the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

As the last of the American forces left under the cover of darkness, there was celebratory gunfire from the Taliban. The moment of exit, a day earlier than expected, was both historic and anticlimactic.

We explore what happened in the last few hours and days of the American occupation, and look at what it leaves behind. 

Guest: Eric Schmitt, a senior writer covering terrorism and national security for The New York Times. 

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Background reading: 

  • The last American flight from Afghanistan left behind a host of unfulfilled promises and anxious questions about the country’s fate.
  • For more information on today’s episode, visit 

    nytimes.com/thedaily

    . Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday.

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