Standing by Trungpa’s deathbed was Thomas Rich, his spiritual successor. Rich was joined by Diana Mukpo (formerly Diana Pybus), who had married Trungpa in 1970, a few months after she turned sixteen. Also present was Trungpa’s twenty-four-year-old son, Mipham Rinpoche. While the cohort chanted and prayed, twenty-five-year-old Leslie Hays listened from outside the door. Trungpa had taken her as one of his seven spiritual wives two years earlier. After being called in to say a brief goodbye, Hays walked out into the evening, secretly relieved Trungpa was dying. She would no longer be serving his sexual demands; enduring his pinches, punches, and kicks; or listening to him drunkenly recount hallucinated conversations with the long-dead sages of medieval Tibet.
The neo-imperialist neoconservatives all argue that the American departure and the subsequent collapse of the Kabul government are deeply destructive to American “credibility” as a superpower in the world. The underlying ideology of this view is of course the cherished concept that the United States must serve as global policeman everywhere and that a failure to do so is a sign of weakness and decline.
This line of thinking is precisely backwards: it is the overall decline of America domestically and geopolitically that is the telltale sign of its deeper weakness; there is an increasing international belief that the United States is living inside a fantasy bubble of denial about maintaining its global hegemony. If the 20-year U.S. military presence in Afghanistan had actually ever shown any serious concrete advancement towards concrete goals, that would be one thing. But the neocons are ever content to throw good money after bad in the blind pursuit of hegemony — even in the very heart of “the graveyard of empires.”