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In August of 2021, President Biden ordered the total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, ending the longest war in American history. Within days of ending the occupation — after 20 years, over 6000 American lives, and more than 2 trillion dollars devoted to “nation building” — Taliban forces immediately swept through the region with little resistance, recapturing the majority of territories they were driven from throughout the two-decade conflict.
Both Biden and Trump made ending the war in Afghanistan a central feature of their campaigns, a policy that was supported by a majority of Americans. And yet, the chaos that erupted in the region has caused a great many to question the wisdom of our withdrawal, both in terms of strategy and execution, especially considering the consequences this decision is having for Afghani citizens (particularly women).
Was ending the war in Afghanistan the right thing to do? How inevitable was the chaos that ensued after the withdrawal? What are the larger implications for the future of the region, its people, and for our overall geopolitical stability? What does this say about America’s strategies of “nation building” over the decades?
These are massively complex questions, and yet are commonly met by narrow and oversimplified narratives from our media, as well as cynical opportunism by our political leaders. Watch as Magdalena, Mark, and Corey try to bring a bit more wisdom and compassion to the topic of America’s occupation and withdrawal from the region, while holding a space for all the complexity, chaos, and heartbreak that is flooding our awareness.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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Written and produced by Corey deVos
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About Magdalena Smieszek
Magdalena Smieszek is an international lawyer, human rights advocate, scholar and educator, having worked over twenty years around the world with humanitarian and development-focused organizations, including a decade with the United Nations.
About Mark Fischler
Mark Fischler is a Professor of Criminal justice and current program coordinator for the criminal justice and criminology programs at Plymouth State University. Prior to joining the Plymouth State faculty, he practiced law, representing poor criminal defendants for the New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office. Mark has worked extensively with alternative theoretical models in law, constitutional law, and higher education, and has published on integral applications to teaching, being a lawyer, and legal theory. His focus in the classroom is ethics and criminal procedure, and is well respected for a teaching philosophy that emphasizes recognizing the humanity and dignity of each student. Professor Fischler was awarded the outstanding teaching award at his university in 2014. He currently offers a weekly Spiritual Inquiry class through Satya Yoga Studio.
About Corey deVos
Corey W. deVos is editor and producer of Integral Life. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.