True scope: East-West Rivalry; Moscow v Washington; Political Absolutism – i.e., the power of the sovereign to destroy property and persons alike with impunity – v Democratic Distribution of Power & Rule of Law. Flies in the ointment: black markets; corruption; guerrilla wars; low intensity conflicts; wars by proxy.
For fair good reason, the nuclear powers seldom directly confront one another. Financial and political arrangements and families have become deeply entangled above the table and below it, and there’s not much we ordinary people can do about it but ride out the storms with awareness that ultimately the modern world, as we would know it, is well at war with feudal-medieval power as well as barbaric and primitive forces in nature expressed through history.
And the Taliban?
The Taliban are already failing Afghanistan, and Afghanistan, by way of our investment and presence across 20 years, has now to choose for itself — out of sight but in the hearts of Afghans and through resistance — what it wishes to be.
One may hope the warlords and others have no wish to become or remain themselves irrecoverably backward.