After the U.S. war in Afghanistan: Our 10/31 program with Friends Meeting of Washington

Just World Admin Afghanistan, Blog, JWE news

Just World Ed is pleased to be co-sponsoring with the Friends Meeting of Washington a hybrid (in-person + Zoom) event on Sunday, October 31 at 12:15 pm ET, on the topic: “After the U.S. war in Afghanistan: Priorities for the Peace Movement.”

If you’re in Washington DC, come join the program in person at FMW’s complex at 2111 Decatur Place NW, near Dupont Circle Metro station. (Masking is required by DC in all indoor spaces and FMW also lovingly expects vaccination for visitors.) If you’d like to take part by Zoom, pre-registration is required: do it at this link.

In this program, Just World Ed President Helena Cobban will be in conversation with two people with unique experiences of Afghanistan and of the United States’ deep engagement with the country over the last 20 years– or 42 years! They are:

** Dr. Zaher Wahab, who was born in Afghanistan, earned a B.A. from the American University of Beirut and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Dr. Zaher served 40 years as Professor of Education at Lewis and Clark University in Portland, OR, making frequent professional visits back to Afghanistan, where he served as a senior advisor to the Minister of Higher Education, 2002-07. He later led the graduate Education Department at the American University of Afghanistan. Dr. Zaher’s bio is here. And here, you can see an excellent CODEPINK webinar from August 16 in which he spoke.

** Graham Fuller is a retired intelligence officer, a specialist on political Islam, and writer. He served as CIA station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan, in the 1970s and in the early 2000s was vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council. Fuller’s recent commentaries, available here, have included critiques of U.S. attempts to retain “primacy” and of “imperial strategic groupthink” in Washington, as well as analyses of the U.S. departure from Afghanistan. In a 2015 novel, Breaking Faith, he explored some of the moral dilemmas of U.S. “intervention” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His personal website is here. Fuller now lives in British Columbia.

JWE President Helena Cobban, who is a Quaker who worships with FMW, noted the timeliness of this program, given that the large-scale military campaign the United States has pursued in Afghanistan since late 2001 came to an abrupt end in August when the government it had sustained in Kabul ignominiously collapsed.

Part of Oct. 10 snapshot of crises in Afghanistan, from UN-OCHA

Most Americans agree that there are many reasons for concern about the nature of Taliban and their rule, including their treatment of women and of ethno/religious minorities.

But Ms. Cobban also noted that many Afghans have expressed relief at the end of the hostilities and of the brutal, often clumsy U.S. military presence in their country– and also, that the Taliban are now the effective ruling force in Afghanistan, whether Americans like that fact, or not. Meanwhile, right now, the country’s 39 million people face multiple dire humanitarian and internal-governance crises.

This situation presents the U.S. peace movement with some very tough dilemmas that Ms. Cobban will be exploring in her 10/31 conversation with Graham Fuller and Dr. Zaher Wahab. The conversation will be followed by a Q&A session that invites questions from members of both the live and the virtual audiences.

Ms. Cobban told Just World Ed that many of her life experiences made this a crucial topic for her to explore. Those include the six years she spent living, working, and starting to raise a family in a country torn by civil war (Lebanon, in the late 1970s), the research she’s conducted on the harsh dilemmas faced by societies struggling to emerge from deep civil conflict, and her bedrock commitment to women’s equality and women’s rights. (You can read more about her life here.)

She has also helped Just World Ed to prepare an online portal that presents background material relevant to these tough dilemmas.