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Editor-in-chief Jason Cowley Head of Digital Tom Young Deputy Editor Tom Gatti International Editor Jeremy Cliffe Political Editor Stephen Bush US Editor Emily Tamkin Creative Editor Gerry Brakus Business Editor Will Dunn Associate Editor Michael Prodger Senior Online Editor George Eaton Online Editor, International India Bourke Deputy Online Editor Rachel Cunliffe Culture Editor Anna Leszkiewicz Special Projects Editor Alona Ferber Britain Editor Anoosh Chakelian Commissioning Editors Gavin Jacobson Lola Seaton Special Correspondents Harry Lambert Sophie McBain Political Correspondent Ailbhe Rea International Correspondent Ido Vock Head of Production Peter Williams Chief Sub-Editor Pippa Bailey Sub-Editors Christiana Bishop Emily Bootle Katherine Cowles Creative Artworker Rebecca Cunningham Assistant Online Editor Eleanor Peake Senior Writers Sarah Manavis Kate Mossman Assistant Culture Editor Ellen Peirson-Hagger Editorial Assistant Ellys Woodhouse Contributing Writers John Bew Philip Collins Chris Deerin Edward Docx Matthew Engel Martin Fletcher John Gray Helen Lewis Shiraz Maher Paul Mason Adrian Pabst Louise Perry David Reynolds Leo Robson Brendan Simms Ed Smith Amelia Tait Johanna Thomas-Corr Helen Thompson Erica Wagner Phil Whitaker Rowan Williams

Contents Free thinking since 1913

Abandoned: John Simpson on the future of Afghanistan 22 Burning planet: Tim Flannery on the year of megafires 28

Up Front

3 Leader 10 Correspondence


7 Stephen Bush on the void at the heart of British foreign policy 9 Jeremy Cliffe on the fall of Kabul and why geography still matters in foreign affairs 19 Lynne O’Donnell writes this week’s Diary 21 Philip Collins on escaping wildfires in France 26 Bruno Maçães on his departure from Kabul before the Taliban takeover 27 Emily Tamkin on why Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan should be a stain on his presidency 38 Louise Perry on the left and childlessness


12 In the Picture 13 Comment: Tom Tugendhat on how the UK failed the Afghan people 14 Charts of the week: Aisha Majid on the true cost of the US war in Afghanistan 16 Encounter: Sophie McBain speaks to the songwriter Nicky Chinn 17 First Thoughts: Rachel Cunliffe on a new kind of terrorism and why homeworking helps employers


22 John Simpson on the true nature of the Taliban 28 Tim Flannery on the forest fires engulfing Europe 32 Katrina Forrester on the rise and fall of digital Corbynism

The Critics: Books

40 John Gray on Richard Zenith’s Pessoa: An Experimental Life, a biography of the Portuguese author who wrote in innumerable voices 43 Reviewed in Short A selection of notable new titles 44 Johanna Thomas-Corr finds 12 Bytes, Jeanette Winterson’s assessment of the future of AI, messianic but unconvincing 46 Stuart Jeffries on the contested legacy of the Frankfurt School of political and social thinkers

New Statesman Vol 150, No 5633 ISSN 1364-7431 USPS 382260

Please note that all submissions to the letters page, our competitions and reader offers are accepted solely subject to our terms and conditions: details available on request or on our website. Subscription Rates: (institutional rates in brackets): UK £120, Airmail Europe: €150; Rest of world Airmail: USA $192. Subscribers paying by direct debit will, after any initial offer, be debited at the standard rate. Syndication/Permissions/Archive: Email: Printed by Walstead Peterborough Ltd, tel: +44 (0)1733 555 567 . Distribution by Marketforce. New Statesman (ISSN 1364-7431) is published weekly by New Statesman Ltd, 12-13 Essex Street, London WC2R 3AA, UK. Registered as a newspaper in the UK and USA

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4 | NEW STATESMAN | 20-26 AUGUST 2021

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