The US pullout from the Pentagon's once mighty Bagram Air Base in the dead of night, while Taliban fighters pour across the country, looks a lot like a military defeat. Back home, President Joe Biden sees a political win.
The US government calls its Afghan exit a "drawdown," not a retreat. And it insists it will continue to support the increasingly vulnerable Afghan government from a distance.
However, the rapid, secretive extraction of all but a handful of the final US troops leaves no doubt about Biden's one true priority: ending 20 years of fruitless warfare against a Taliban insurgency that could not be beaten.
Afghanistan is "a war that the president continues to feel does not have a military solution," press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday.
Biden originally set a deadline for the withdrawal of September 11 -- the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that first triggered US invasion of Afghanistan.