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Afghanistan | Munk Debates

SEASON TWO - EPISODE #35

Afghanistan

Be it resolved, withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan is a tactical and strategic blunder the US will come to regret.

Guests
Elliot Ackerman
Andrew Bacevich

About this episode

Twenty years and counting. 800 billion dollars spent. Over 2,000 US service members killed. America, Canada and NATO’s longest war is finally coming to a close as troops begin to withdraw from their bases in Afghanistan this summer. While fully three quarters of Americans applaud President Biden’s decision to pull out ground troops completely, many security experts are sounding the alarm. Leaving Afghanistan without a secure national government and strong army in place, they warn, will almost certainly lead to a Taliban takeover, ethnic cleansing, mass slaughter, and the destabilization of a country that has long been a regional powder keg. It’s a risky move that would destroy the West's credibility as an ally at the very moment China is on the rise as a global player. Also, without a foreign military presence, the very real risk exists that Al-Qaeda will use the country again as a base to expand their recruitment and plan terror attacks against the US and its allies.

Others see 20 years of fighting and little to show for it. The Taliban remains a major force in the country and controls more territory now than it did in 2001. Efforts to build up Afghan forces, install a stable government, and curb corruption ended in failure at great expense of blood and treasure. America, NATO and the West can no longer afford to be Afghanistan's policeman. It’s time to end a conflict that is no longer in the national interest.

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Guests

Elliot Ackerman

“The current policy in which the US forfeits the entire enterprise is strategically ill-advised and nearsighted, particularly given current costs, which are relatively minor.”

Elliot Ackerman

“The current policy in which the US forfeits the entire enterprise is strategically ill-advised and nearsighted, particularly given current costs, which are relatively minor.”

Elliot Ackerman is the author of the novels 2034, Red Dress In Black and White, Waiting for Eden, Dark at the Crossing, and Green on Blue, as well as the memoir Places and Names: On War, Revolution and Returning. His books have been nominated for the National Book Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal in both fiction and non-fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize among others. His writing often appears in Esquire, The New Yorker, and The New York Times where he is a contributing opinion writer, and his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Travel Writing. He is both a former White House Fellow and Marine, and served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. He divides his time between New York City and Washington, D.C. 

Andrew Bacevich

“Afghans don't want to be occupied by foreign armies. Afghans want to be the masters of their own fate. I think we should allow them to exercise that privilege.”

Andrew Bacevich

“Afghans don't want to be occupied by foreign armies. Afghans want to be the masters of their own fate. I think we should allow them to exercise that privilege.”

Andrew Bacevich grew up in Indiana, graduated from West Point and Princeton, served in the army, became an academic, and is now a writer. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than a dozen books, among them The New American Militarism, The Limits of Power, Washington Rules, America’s War for the Greater Middle East, and After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed. He is president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington think tank.

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