The US-led war in Afghanistan was never a trophy that Washington could take home. The two-decade-long war, proved time and again, to be an added expense and emotional baggage for the US administrations that came into office and controlled this mission. Washington Post reports that since 2001, over 775,000 US troops have been deployed. Over 2200 have lost their lives, over 20,000 wounded in action. The UN began documenting civilian casualties in 2009. It reports that over 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed. The financial burden has been immense on the US. Over $2.26 trillion was spent on various expenses incurred during the war. The Defense Department’s report in 2020 claimed that “war-fighting costs totalled $815.7 billion over the years. That covers the operating costs of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, everything from fuel and food to Humvees, weapons and ammunition, from tanks and armored vehicles to aircraft carriers and airstrikes.” According to a report from Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), “$88 billion went to training, equipping and funding Afghan military and police forces.” It reports that “$36 billion was allocated on reconstruction projects, education and infrastructure like dams and highways. Another $4.1 billion has gone to humanitarian aid for refugees and disasters. The campaign to deter Afghans from selling heroin around the world costs over $9 billion.” Biden’s administration has also assembled the largest defense department task force primarily focused on China. The administration of Joe Biden has rationally decided to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Washington is perhaps done with managing this conflict in Afghanistan. The term “forever wars” has emerged recently, signifying the USA’s attempt to end this war and focus on other matters of geopolitical importance. China and Russia are the new global powers Washington needs to face, argue with, and contain. Biden wants to re-enter the arena of great power competition. The hegemony, the US primarily enjoyed following the Second World War, was slowly overtaken by the economic rise of China. Akin to Afghanistan, the US mission in Iraq, too, ended without comprehensively defeating the enemy or resolving the conflict that emerged, while the US troops were stationed. The Taliban are now capturing parts of Afghanistan. Latest reports claim that the Taliban have captured nearly 80% of the country. Lynne O’Donnell in his article “Taliban Map Out Future Vision for Afghanistan” for “Foreign Policy” writes, “Postwar Afghanistan, in the eyes of the Taliban, will be a law-abiding country, a member of the community of nations, open for business, and at peace with itself, its neighbors, and the rest of the world. But the sexes will be strictly segregated, women will be forced to wear hijabs, and freedom of speech and expression will become memories.” The days to come following the US troops’ withdrawal will present a clear picture as to who will rule Afghanistan. If the Taliban are pursuing to establish their order, it must be backed by political and democratic will. Moreover, they must create and implement political validity and diplomatic veneration to establish and maintain smooth ties with South Asian countries and with the West. With the US now ready to face China and Russia, the geopolitical game plan may alter. The reorientation of political, diplomatic, and military focus from Afghanistan to China and Russia will compel the US to expand its naval and ground troops. Washington will also monitor China and Russia’s proxy wars against the US in any form they may be. The US would observe the relationships that China and Russia have with regional allies and the countries that are in Washington’s good books. According to reports, the US is deliberating upon installing a permanent naval task force in the Pacific region. This will help Washington challenge China’s military assertiveness. Under the China-aimed Pacific Deterrence Initiative, the US Indo-Pacific Command has already requested $4.68 billion for the fiscal year 2022 to finance this initiative. Biden’s administration has also assembled the largest defense department task force primarily focused on China. The G7, NATO, and EU-US summits echoed Washington’s inclination and urgency to tackle the emerging threat from China and Russia. For the first time, NATO called China to be giving “systematic challenges.” It also presented Russia as “a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.” While former US President Donald Trump institutionalized China as a foreign policy priority, Biden – on the other hand – has institutionalized China’s threat to be incorporated as an agenda across US-led multilateral domains. The US vs. China-Russia conflict has begun. It will begin a new era of conflicts, skirmishes, disagreements, and dialogues. The allies of all three countries would need to take rational steps for sure. The writer is a fiction writer, columnist and author of Divided Species.