Afghanistan: What Happened and What Can Be Done?
From Julia Schwarz
America's precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised a number of important questions that this panel hopes to address. Among these are: Is this event a sign of America’s loss of standing in the world? What are its geo-strategic implications? Was it a mistake for the US to seek to spread values such as democracy and women’s rights, rather than focus narrowly on strategic interests? The latter would have been to destroy Al Qaeda and nothing else. Is the perennial tension between values and interests reconcilable? How is it that the US has been defeated (if that is the correct term) after 20 years and nearly $2 trillion dollars in spending on Afghanistan? What does this tell us about the competence of the US government, its leadership, military and intelligence services? Who is accountable for this loss? Unlike other world powers, repeated US defeats--in Iraq and now in Afghanistan--appear to have no repercussions for those who advocated for these wars or for those who prosecuted them. What will the effects of America’s withdrawal be on the people of Afghanistan as well as on the regions of Central and South Asia? Will this withdrawal, with its horrific scenes of desperate Afghans clamoring to board US military flights out of Kabul airport, have an impact on domestic US politics? Will it have an impact on the midterm elections of 2022 or the prospects of a second Biden presidential term? This panel, which unites experts from different disciplines and with a wide range of regional expertise, will seek to answer these questions and provide different perspectives on the recent events in Afghanistan.