| by Mollie Messick MATESOL '21

News Stories

Silhouette of two people walking at dawn in Kabul, Afghanistan
Dawn in Kabul, Afghanistan (Credit: Mohammad Rahmani https://unsplash.com/@afgprogrammer )

The Monterey Initiative in Russian Studies (MIR) hosted a panel discussion on the Afghanistan crisis and its regional and global consequences on Tuesday, September 21.

Panelists included Dr. Elena Chernenko, special correspondent at the Kommersant daily newspaper in Moscow; Anatol Lieven, senior fellow for Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft; Rakesh Sood, distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation; and Clarissa Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent.

Led by Dr. Jade McGlynn, panel moderator and director of the Monterey Trialogue Initiative at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, the panelists analyzed the rapid fall of Kabul, implications of the U.S. “defeat,” and the pressing question of whether the new Taliban government will uphold its promises of amnesty and continued rights for women and ethnic minorities. Ward shared observations from her experience in Afghanistan during the takeover, and Chernenko touched on the cautious approach of Central Asian governments and Russia’s concern regarding the trafficking of heroin and the potential spread of Islamic extremism through the region.

Zoom screenshot of the four panelists and moderator
Top (L-R): Dr. Jade McGlynn, Rakesh Sood, Elena Chernenko. Bottom (L-R): Anatol Lievin, Clarissa Ward

Lieven reminded the audience that though world powers are calculating their responses to the Taliban, “Afghanistan is not a geopolitical prize,” while Sood highlighted the challenges facing the new government, including transitioning Taliban fighters to civilian life and governing a relatively young population raised with access to international media.

A recording of the event can be viewed below.

The Return of the Taliban: What does it mean for the region, Russia, and the West?