As the prospect for withdrawing the remaining 20,000 U.S. and NATO troops from the war in Afghanistan becomes increasingly likely, how did that negotiated peace come about and what does it look like? How likely are the Afghan government and the Taliban to peacefully co-exist? And how do we evaluate this nearly two-decade-long engagement from a policy and humanitarian perspective?
Dr. Carter Malkasian is the special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. He has extensive experience working in conflict zones and has published several books.
The highlight of his work in conflict zones was nearly two years in Garmser district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, as a State Department political officer. Before that, Dr Malkasian deployed as a civilian advisor with the Marines twice to Iraq, for a total of 18 months, mostly in Al Anbar in 2004 and 2006. Other field assignments have been to Honduras, Kuwait (OIF-1), Kunar (2007-2008), and Kabul as the political advisor to General Dunford (2013-2014).
From May 2012 to May 2013, Dr Malkasian directed the office of overseas operations within the US State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. From October 2006 to July 2009, he directed the Stability and Development Program at CNA, the think tank for the US Navy and Marine Corps.
His 2013 book, War Comes to Garmser (Oxford University Press) won the silver medal for the Council on Foreign Relations’ Arthur Ross Book Award. Other publications include A History of Modern Wars of Attrition (2002), The Korean War, 1950-1953 (2001), and “War Downsized: How to Accomplish More with Less” in Foreign Affairs (2012).
His newest book is Illusions of Victory: The Anbar Awakening and the Islamic State (Oxford University Press, 2017), about the successes and eventual failure of the famous Anbar awakening tribal movement and the corresponding US military effort.
Dr. Malkasian completed his doctorate in history at Oxford University. He speaks Pashto.
Scott Seward Smith is a Technical Expert on Afghanistan at the United States Institute for Peace. Between 2017 and 2019 he was based in Kabul, Afghanistan, as the Director of Political Affairs for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Mr. Smith has worked on Afghanistan for almost 25 years, beginning with humanitarian work in Kabul in the mid-1990s. From 1998 to 2011 he was a Political Affairs Officer with the United Nations, which included work on decolonization (1998-1999), senior political officer in the UN mission to Bougainville (2000), desk officer for Afghanistan in both the Departments of Political Affairs (2001-2003) and the Department of Peacekeeping (2007-2009), desk officer for Afghanistan at the Electoral Assistance Division (2003-2004), Special Assistant to the Special Representative based in Kabul (2009-2010). Mr. Smith resigned from the United Nations in 2011 and was the Director for Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs at the United States Institute of Peace (2012-2016). Mr. Smith was selected as one of eight members of the United Nations Standby Mediation team in 2016-2017, and subsequently re-joined UNAMA as political affairs director.
Mr. Smith is the author of Afghanistan’s Troubled Transition: Peacekeeping, Politics, and the 2004 Presidential Election (Lynne Rienner, 2011), co-editor of Getting it Right in Afghanistan (USIP Press, 2013), and the author of numerous articles on Afghanistan. He was an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs between 2011 and 2013 and has taught undergraduate courses at Boston University’s Washington D.C. campus on democratization (2014-215) and conflict resolution (2019).
Mr. Smith earned a Masters Degree from Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs (1998) and a Bachelors in Science from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (1991).
Mr. Smith speaks English, French, Spanish, and basic Dari.
Ms. Sultan has been working on the economic and political empowerment of Afghan women through a variety of roles over the last four years. She serves on the advisory board of the Business Council for Peace, an organization that helps women build sustainable businesses in post-conflict countries. She is a member of the Women Waging Peace network and co-authored the report on Afghanistan, “From Rhetoric to Reality: Afghan Women on the Agenda for Peace.” Ms. Sultan produced and narrated “From Ground Zero to Ground Zero,” the first documentary on Afghan civilian casualties to air on US television, later shown in Europe and Japan. She is a contributing author toWomen for Afghan Women: Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future and author of My War At Home. She recently completed her Master’s in Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Ms. Sultan lives in Afghanistan and is working as an advisor to the Ministry of Finance.
Dipali Mukhopadhyay – Moderator
Professor Mukhopadhyay is an Associate Professor (untenured) of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, where she is also a faculty affiliate of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. She is the author of Good Rebel Governance: Revolutionary Politics and Western Intervention in Syria (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming) with Kimberly Howe and Warlords, Strongman Governors and State Building in Afghanistan (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Her scholarly publications also include articles in Conflict, Security and Development, International Negotiation, Perspectives on Politics, as well as a series of book chapters in edited volumes. Her policy-oriented writing has been published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Foreign Policy, Lawfare, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and The Washington Post. Mukhopadhyay’s research has been funded by the Carnegie Corporation, the Eisenhower Institute, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace, Harvard Law School, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of Education. She is Vice President of the American Institute of Afghan Studies and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
At Columbia, Professor Mukhopadhyay teaches Conceptual Foundations of International Politics, the introductory survey course for graduate students in the School of International and Public Affairs. She also teaches a number of advanced graduate seminars in the field of international security policy on political violence and state-building. Prior to joining Columbia’s faculty, Mukhopadhyay spent 2011 as a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University. In 2016, she was a Visiting Scholar at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation. Professor Mukhopadhyay received her doctorate from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and her BA in political science magna cum laude from Yale University.
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KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (March 30, 2010) —A humvee of the Afghan National Army traverses a solitary road through the Tagab Valley. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O’Donald/Released)