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Three days after the 9/11 attacks -- just two weeks shy of 20 years ago -- then-President George W. Bush prepared the nation for an arduous war on terror and asserted that while "this conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others, it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing."
The hour for the long war in Afghanistan to end arrived, based on timing chosen ultimately and fatefully by President Joe Biden. But the way it ended was not the way anyone would have selected -- and offers glimpses of the substantial challenges ahead for Biden and the nation.
While U.S. troops are now out of Afghanistan, hundreds of Americans and countless Afghan allies were left behind. Any efforts to extricate them comes as Afghanistan is expected to be plunged into political and security turmoil, with terrorists warring with insurgents for dominance and unknown quantities of American military equipment left behind.