After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the United States has removed all military forces. After the closure of Bagram Airbase, the U.S. backed Afghan government fell in less than two months. The Taliban moved fast and converged on the capital in Kabul. As a result, the Kabul Airport became the focal point of a frenzied pullout. The pullout from Afghanistan was a disaster. The lack of planning led to the death of thirteen military personnel. Eleven Marines, one Navy Corpsman, and one Soldier died. Click here for a full list of their names and pictures.
Thus, we take a bold step to begin investigating and learning from what happened. We must learn from our history and figure out a path forward. Our national pride depends on it. It was a pleasure to interview my guest, Mike Nelson. Mike’s insights are impressive. He draws on a vast wealth of knowledge and experience. Check out the podcast and the books that Mike and I recommend in our discussion.
About the Guest
Mike Nelson is a Visiting Fellow at George Mason University’s National Security Institute and an Army Special Forces veteran with multiple deployments to Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Inherent Resolve.
- The rise of the Taliban in the 1990s after the Soviet Union
- The Taliban’s relationship with Al-Qaeda and the influence of the Haqqani Network
- How the U.S. got involved in Afghanistan and why the U.S. decided to overthrow the Taliban
- Task Force Dagger and how early success was counterproductive
- Why some of the democracy efforts failed. Mike says, “We confused democracy with legitimacy.”
- How lessons from the Iraq War were misapplied in Afghanistan specifically the “Surge” strategy
- Why negotiations with the Taliban were flawed from the start
- How Pakistan enabled the Taliban and worked against U.S. interests
- The power dynamics in the region that include Russian and Chinese interests
- The future of Afghanistan to include how terrorist groups might use the country for follow-on operations
Additional Books and Articles
Mike’s article here “It Was the Best of COIN, It Was the Worst of COIN”
Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics Book 45)
How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle
Blood Year: The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism
The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
The Looming Tower Publisher: Vintage
Interview on the rise of ISIS with Joby Warrick
Interview with Gideon Rose on “How Wars End”
Afghanistan after 20 years of War
Is it possible to provide me the transcript of this episode.
Hello, apologies for the late response. Not sure why I did not see this comment. I do not have a transcript of it unfortunately.