Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team

On Today’s Show

On GPS, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET:

First, Fareed gives his take on the Taliban’s shocking advance in Afghanistan—and on “the fantasy that the United States was maintaining the peace there with just a few thousand troops and that this situation could have been managed with this small commitment.”

After that: As the Taliban closes in on Kabul, CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward joins Fareed with the latest updates on the fight for the country.

Next, Fareed talks with Adm. (ret.) Mike Mullen, former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the decision to withdraw US and NATO troops and why it’s been so difficult to build up an effective government in Afghanistan.

Then: What does the Taliban surge mean for Afghan women and girls? Will the group reinstate its brutal, sexist, often medieval rules? Fareed asks Mahbouba Seraj, executive director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Center.

After the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued more dire warnings in its latest report, Fareed asks US climate envoy John Kerry where the planet is heading and what we can (and can’t) do about it.

Finally: a “natural disaster of unprecedented proportions”—that’s what Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has called the wildfires raging in southern Europe. Fareed talks with Mitsotakis about what his country and others are facing.

Afghanistan’s Looming ‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’

No matter who prevails in day-to-day battles for Afghan territory, Hameed Hakimi writes for The Guardian that “the country inevitably faces a humanitarian catastrophe,” given that “[o]rdinary Afghans are confronted with a triple calamity: dire security, health and economic prospects.” As “public parks in Kabul are fast filling with internally displaced people who are fleeing violence in their home provinces,” Hamiki predicts massive refugee outflows.

At The Economist’s 1843 magazine, Rahullah Khapalwak writes that citizens are hiding books, bracing for potential Taliban raids on their homes, and fearing that fighters could decide, on a whim, to kill them. “One shopkeeper reports brisk sales in burqas,” Khapalwak writes. “[M]any people are assessing which of their possessions could land them in trouble: hiding TVs and deleting music and videos from phones. Some men have started to grow their beards. … Nobody knows if the Taliban really will persecute people for owning a TV. The situation is changing each hour, and information is scarce. But it’s clear that the order of the past 20 years is over.”

America’s Counterterrorism Sweet Spot

The Taliban advance has sparked fears of a resurgent terrorist haven, but at Foreign Affairs, Hal Brands and Michael O’Hanlon write that after costly initial years of the so-called “war on terror,” the US seems to have landed on a better strategy.

“After conducting unsustainably expensive military commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States underreached by pulling back from the broader Middle East too fast and allowing old threats to reemerge,” they write. “But since around 2014, Washington has settled on a medium-footprint model based on modest investments, particularly in special operations forces and airpower, to support local forces that do most of the fighting and dying. When combined with nonmilitary tools such as intelligence cooperation, law enforcement efforts, and economic aid, this approach provides reasonably good protection at a reasonable price.”

‘Have We Finally Broken the Climate?’

Recent news about the climate has not been good. As Fareed noted in his latest Washington Post column, the US has urged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (and the countries that cooperate with it) to pump more oil, to keep gasoline prices low. In light of this, Adam Tooze writes for The Guardian that America must not be serious about its stated climate agenda.

But extreme weather has produced the most disturbing headlines, including the one quoted above. Francesco Collini, Johann Grolle, and Thomas Milz pose that question at Der Spiegel, in an essay that notes the events of the Northern Hemisphere’s 2021 summer and asks if we’re in for a climate “tipping point,” after which truly dramatic changes might unfold—like much of Brazil’s Amazon becoming savannah, or the “vast majority” of Greenland’s ice sheet melting.

“Climate scientists are essentially divided into two camps,” they write. “The majority is adamant about leaning exclusively on established facts. … [computer] models show no indication that the climate will begin changing uncontrollably should temperatures continue to rise. … The other faction warns that the risk of an out-of-control climate is too great to ignore.” Some calculations do suggest “desert-like climate events like those seen this summer would occur every five to 10 years in southwestern Canada. In that future, which may not be all that far away, one doesn’t even want to imagine what a once-in-a-millennia summer might look like.”

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