Nearly 20 years later, the United States withdrew its troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban have regained control of the country. In light of those developments, a panel of foreign policy experts on Tuesday addressed two separate but relevant questions: Why did the US military action in Afghanistan slow down, and what’s next for the disputed country?
The incident took place while observers were still digesting the rapid collapse of the US-backed national government in Afghanistan, which the US was unable to maintain power with the withdrawal of its troops.
Wanda Fellbab-Brown, PhD ’07, a senior member of the Center for Security, Strategy and Technology at Even Kings, said: “I did not expect them to drop in 10 days.
Virtual Event, “United States, Afghanistan, 9/11: Finished or Unfinished Business?” It is the latest in a series of Star forums hosted by MIT’s Center for International Studies, which investigates key foreign policy and international issues. Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT, hosted the event.
The panelists provided some answers as to why the United States has not been able to help build a stronger state in Afghanistan in 20 years.
Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan who specializes in the Middle East, suggested that large – scale military ambitions in Afghanistan could lead to a strategic surplus. He said the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, providing a haven for the Al Qaeda terrorist group that attacked the United States on September 11, 1996, but any military action aimed at disrupting Al Qaeda could be quiescent.
“The first U.S. attack on Afghanistan can be justified,” Cole said. Al Qaeda had training camps to plan 9/11, so destroying those camps is a legitimate military mission to ensure that they can no longer operate.
Cole, however, suggested that “a whole country of millions of people and a country that is difficult to run and capture” should be a “precursor to failure.” The United States inevitably worked more closely with some ethnic groups and not with others; The local aristocracy snatched foreign aid; Some militarized groups aligned with the United States reacted strongly to the sight of foreign troops in Sri Lanka. All of this meant that U.S. expectations would soon “meet reality,” Cole said.
Felbab-Brown stressed two long-term factors that helped to thwart the US effort to build a new state of Afghanistan. For one thing, she noted that neither the United States nor any other country has been able to re-establish neighborly neighboring Pakistan from decades of close ties with the Taliban.
“Essentially, the United States has never resolved how to prevent Pakistan from providing multifaceted security support to the Taliban until the last days of July and August, and over 20 years of material support, security monuments and all other forms of support. , “She said.
Second, Felhab-Brown notes that in a country that has received between 40 and 50 percent of its foreign aid over the past two decades, the United States and its allies have not been able to determine “how to persuade the local ruling elite to exercise their governing role.” Did. Establishing more satisfactory practices in local administration.
Philbab-Brown noted the positive consequences of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, including the economic and educational benefits for women in particular.
“There is still a big difference between poverty today [in Afghanistan] The famine of the 1990s and the massive deterioration of civil and human rights. ”
If so, where will Afghanistan go after most of the country or the whole region is under Taliban control?
“The worst outcome is that over time, the 1990s will be similar,” Fellhab-Brown said, referring to the repressive Taliban policies that did not really impose huge restrictions on women’s rights and cultural activities.
Alternatively, Felhaub-Brown suggested that “the best outcome is Iran’s political system and … a system in which women can get an education, get a job, leave home with political asylum, a critical condition.” It is still limited by Western standards. The Taliban are likely to settle for a more restrictive set of policies, as suggested by Felhab-Brown.
Carol Siewets, a senior adviser to the MIT Defense Studies Program and a specialist in Russia, said the consequences of international relations in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan were uncertain. She noted that while some in Russia may be satisfied with watching the US struggle as they leave Afghanistan, Russia itself has long been concerned about the spread of radical Islamist groups under its influence.
“I think it’s a short-term profit … I think it could be very problematic for the Russians in the long run,” Siwitz said. I think they are really afraid of any kind of threat of Islamic terrorism overcoming Russia again.
Syvats observed that the Soviet invasion from 1979 to 1989 and the occupation of Afghanistan showed difficulties in trying to change the country, especially in its rural setting.
“The Soviet experience in Afghanistan is very similar to ours,” Siwitz said.
In his final thoughts, Posen called the end of the U.S. military’s a “tragic chapter in a 20-year book” and said much of Afghanistan’s economy was made up of foreign aid programs, which now appear to be from overseas. There are still difficult decisions to be made about whether.
“The West has a lot of deep moral choices to make, not only with the Taliban, but with the Afghan people,” Posen said.