Afghanistan: Past, Present and Future

On September 21, 2021, the Global Policy Institute (GPI) hosted its first event of the 2021-2022 academic year. The event analyzed the repercussions of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. For this event, GPI hosted Ronald E. Neumann, US Ambassador to Afghanistan (2005-2007); Heather Barr, Associate Director of the Women’s Rights Division and former Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch; and Dr. Orzala Nemat, head of Afghanistan’s top research think tank, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU).

The speakers shared their experiences in Afghanistan and reflected on the struggles that the Afghan people have been facing since the rise of the Taliban. They explained how during their time in Afghanistan, before the Taliban took over, women played an important role in society by being able to pursue an education and becoming government officials. The speakers agreed that the rise of the Taliban leaves an uncertain future, especially for women and young people.

Now that the Taliban has taken control, the United States and its allies will likely have to find ways to collaborate with the Taliban regime, the group they once fought on Afghan soil. It is still unclear whether the Taliban will be interested in such cooperation. But it is certain that the American withdrawal will have consequences for US foreign policy in the region and beyond. As Ambassador Neumann noticed, some countries may come to the conclusion that “the United States is too unreliable to trust even if it is too large to ignore.”

Written by Kevin Errasquin, GPI Undergraduate Fellow