Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Scott Miller

August 23: Afghanistan (cont’d)

At the end of our discussion on Afghanistan yesterday, we collectively decided that there were still lots of issues to explore on this subject. And the news continues to “break.” While we generally try to avoid “chasing the tape” containing the latest news (and the related short-termism that often accompanies such actions), we’ll continue the discussion this coming Monday.

There seems to be a general consensus that withdrawal, ending the “forever war,” is the right strategy–it’s the single common thread between Presidents Trump and Biden. The real debate (which we touched on yesterday) is around the actual execution of the withdrawal.

I’m sure we’ll explore many facets of the subject, but here are a few to consider:

  • What is your view of the Administration’s communications policy (both designated “talking heads” and the President himself? Successful? Failure? As good as could be, given the difficult circumstances? What could/should have been done better?
  • How far should the US go, at this point, to provide a safe exit for Afghans who wish to depart the country? (This seems, to me, to be the principal bone of contention.) The current path seems quite passive (something like “we’ll consider flyng you out if you are at the airport and are on a list; otherwise, find your own way to a third country and apply for entry to the US from there”). Theoretical alternatives might include elements of concerted diplomatic efforts, UN Security Council statements, the prospect of aid/sanctions, or even “safe passage” supported by US military?
  • Should the US maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, like China likely will and Russia is considering?
  • Perhaps most importantly, even if Afghanistan is not viewed as a national security priority, what will the US actions surrounding our exit say about:
    • Our commitment to our supposed “core values” (if, for example, we were to continue our minimalist efforts to extract Afghan employees, interpreters, others who worked with the US and ISAF efforts)?
    • Our reliability as an ally–in Europe, in the Far East, etc.?
    • Our intelligence and military capabilities? (Which, once again, either fell woefully short or were overridden by political considerations.)

I’m sure we will have plenty of material to continue the discussion.

Sarah Everdell thought this piece from Heather Cox Richardson might be of interest.

Hugh Nazor provided this Foreign Affairs book review.

We could fill up the Beyond Labels server with articles and commentary on this subject; if you think you have something really compelling that you want to discuss on Monday, you can provide a link to it in a comment to this post.

August 16: Afghanistan

Although we didn’t choose this topic last week, it seems appropriate to chase the news and discuss the latest developments and evaluate the Biden Administration’s strategy and messaging.

I won’t post any articles—take your pick from pretty much any source.

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