Episode 4 CIA Secret Museum

Tucked away deep inside the intelligence agency’s headquarters in Langley, VA is a museum most of us will never see. It chronicles the organization’s history—including some of its most important missions and greatest failures. The public isn’t allowed in, but in this episode you get a peek inside.


Can You Trust the Pentagon About UFOs?

A media frenzy erupted when a Chinese spy balloon crossed the skies above the United States, but that was hardly the first UFO to violate American airspace. U.S. warplanes have shot down multiple UFOs this year and the government has reported over 150 more mysterious sightings in recent years that it can’t explain. Pilots and former Pentagon officials say it’s time for the U.S. government to study the issue seriously and tell the public what it knows. But the Pentagon’s bizarre history of stifling — and stoking —  UFO panic makes it hard to know how out-there the truth will turn out to be.

What Keeps General David Petraeus Up at Night?

The celebrated American general takes you on a world tour of hotspots, sizes up the threats posed by China and Russia, assesses the risk of a military coup in the U.S., discusses a future where AI-powered machines are doing most of the war-fighting, and explains why he thinks the most apt metaphor for the challenges facing America in the current global landscape is…a very tricky circus act

Will Vladimir Putin Get Away with War Crimes?

When a newly-hired intern at the International Criminal Court was arrested and revealed to be a Russian spy, it begged the question: what was he up to? Now that Vladimir Putin has a warrant from this court for his arrest, it’s not hard to imagine the spy was planning to tell Moscow about evidence that is accumulating in the case against Russia for its atrocities in Ukraine. Turns out the evidence is abundant — and this may be the conflict that finally makes it hard to get away with war crimes.

“Soldiers Don’t Go Mad,” book event with Charles Glass, New America Online

[ONLINE] – Soldiers Don’t Go Mad

Brotherhood, Poetry, and Mental Illness During the First World War

From the moment war broke out across Europe in 1914, the world entered a new, unparalleled era of modern warfare. Within the first four months of the war, the British Army recorded the nervous collapse of ten percent of its officers. In his new book Soldiers Don’t Go Mad, New America International Security Program Fellow Charles Glass draws upon rich source materials from World War One and his own deep understanding of trauma and war to tell the story of the soldiers and doctors who struggled with the effects of industrial warfare on the human psyche. Told through the lens of two soldier-poets during World War One, Soldiers Don’t Go Mad investigates the roots of what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder. In doing so, Glass brings historical bearing to questions of how war affects mental health and how creative work can help people come to terms with even the darkest of times.

Join New America’s International Security Program for a discussion with Charles Glass, author of Soldiers Don’t Go Mad: A Story of Brotherhood, Poetry, and Mental Illness During the First World War. Glass is a fellow with New America’s International Security program and a writer, journalist, broadcaster and publisher, who has written on conflict in the Middle East, Africa and Europe for the past forty-five years.

Join the conversation online using #SoldiersDontGoMad and following @NewAmericaISP.


Charles Glass
Author, Soldiers Don’t Go Mad
Fellow, New America International Security Program


Peter Bergen, @peterbergencnn
Vice President, New America
Co-Director, Center on the Future of War, ASU
Professor of Practice, ASU

The unnecessary price of Covid-19, CNN.com

Opinion by Peter Bergen
Published 2:24 PM EDT, Mon April 24, 2023

Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America, and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of “The Cost of Chaos: The Trump Administration and the World ” and was the founding editor of the Coronavirus Daily Brief. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.


According to a new report, half a million Americans may have died unnecessarily of Covid-19. At the same time, the US government spent trillions to deal with the pandemic when better preparedness could have saved many lives and much money. American schools were also closed for many months unnecessarily, with students paying the price.

The report, “Lessons from the Covid War,” by the Covid Crisis Group, is being published as a 347-page book Tuesday. It will likely stand as the most authoritative account of American policy failures and successes during the war against Covid-19.

The report makes for sobering reading, concluding that “no country’s performance was more disappointing than the United States.” The group came to that conclusion because, despite the great depth of scientific knowledge in the United States, American “excess deaths” during the pandemic were about 40% higher than the European death rate.

If the US had had a similar rate to Europe by the end of 2022, “probably” at least half a million Americans wouldn’t have died, according to the report. That’s a big number. The federal government also deployed $5 trillion to deal with the consequences of the pandemic. That is also a big number.

So how did the US get into this mess?

Given America’s hyper-partisanship, just about everything about the Covid-19 pandemic was deeply politicized – from the precise origins of the coronavirus in China, to lockdowns, mask-wearing, school closures, vaccines, and the best drugs for treatment.

As a result, there has been scant official reckoning over how the government fared during the pandemic and what lessons might be learned for the inevitable next pandemic.

A 2022 bipartisan bill seeking to establish a National Covid Commission never made it to the floor for a vote in the US Congress. This is astonishing when you consider that more Americans have died of Covid – around 1.1 million so far – than all the Americans who died in every US war going back to the American Revolution.

So, without a congressionally mandated inquiry like the 9/11 Commission, 34 American public health experts, physicians, and other policy experts decided to investigate what went right and wrong during the pandemic.

Starting their work in early 2021, the non-partisan Covid Crisis Group conducted “listening sessions” with 274 people who had played some role in responding to the pandemic or had been affected by it.

The group was directed by Philp Zelikow, a leading historian and former senior State Department official in the George W. Bush administration who had also served as the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, which had set the gold standard for how to conduct a comprehensive examination of a major catastrophe and the lessons that could be learned from it.

Other members of the Covid Crisis Group included Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota who had been publicly warning of the emergence of a global pandemic for a decade and a half before Covid-19 first emerged; Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Hamburg, the former Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration and Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, former chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health.


The report examines both the “lab leak” theory that the coronavirus accidentally escaped from a research lab in Wuhan, China, and the natural transmission theory that the virus moved from a wild animal into humans. But the report doesn’t come down on the side of either theory, which seems fair enough given the inadequate evidence.

Dr. Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó of the University of Pennsylvania
Opinion: Thought mRNA vaccines would end with the pandemic? Think again
The Chinese government’s penchant for secrecy was on full display in the early days of the outbreak. As a result, the origin issue may never be fully settled as it would have required considerable transparency by the government about what was happening in Wuhan at the beginning of the pandemic.

Yet, as the report points out, “both theories drive toward common urgent insights for action.” If the virus occurred because of animal transmission, that calls for improved surveillance for new viruses, using tools such as monitoring both work absenteeism and Internet searches that might indicate new viruses may be making the rounds, as well as increased biomedical surveillance.

And if it was a lab leak, better safeguards must be put in place for research on viruses worldwide given that “synthetic biology” will likely be one of the defining technologies of the 21st century.

The botched US response

The American health system is a patchwork of 2,800 state and local systems, according to the report. This would have made a coordinated national response to Covid-19 challenging to pull off in any administration, but the Trump administration’s response at the federal level “failed quickly.”

Some Trump officials did understand the likely dimensions of the Covid pandemic early on. Matthew Pottinger, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who spoke Mandarin and had covered the SARS outbreak in China, served as senior director for Asia at the National Security Council. Pottinger warned then-President Donald Trump in late January 2020 that the virus spread quickly from human to human, often without apparent symptoms.

A customer wears a face mask as they lift weights while working out inside a Planet Fitness Inc. gym as the location reopens after being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, on March 16, 2021 in Inglewood, California.
Opinion: Were masks useless? The deceptive interpretation of what science tells us
The Trump administration soon banned non-American travelers from China from arriving in the US. While that may have slowed the spread of the virus in the U.S. a bit right at the beginning of the pandemic, travel bans were not especially effective given that the coronavirus is so transmissible, often spreading without symptoms in an age of mass global travel.

A problem in the US government’s early response was the lack of effective tests for the virus during the first months of the pandemic. By contrast, South Korea, better prepared for the emergency, had tens of thousands of tests running daily by mid-February 2020, according to the report.

The report found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – despite its name suggesting that it is at the forefront of preventing the spread of disease – didn’t do operational pandemic preparedness, but instead acts as a quasi-academic institution that collects and analyzes data after an incident has happened. In a chilling finding, the report says when it came to tracking Covid-19 cases in the United States, researchers at The Atlantic magazine’s Covid Tracking Project did a better job in real-time than the CDC did.

There has been scant official reckoning over how the government fared during the pandemic and what lessons might be learned for the inevitable next pandemic.

Compounding the problem at the federal level was President Trump, who, as is well known, continuously played down the threat posed by the virus and refused to wear a mask when masking was one of the few tools that prevented the spread of the virus before vaccines. By April 2020, Trump had decided that Covid wasn’t much worse than the flu, and he wanted to “reopen” the economy as he was “deep into his reelection campaign,” according to the report.

As a result, the Covid Crisis Group concluded that “Trump was a co-morbidity” with Covid. Comorbidity is a medical term meaning that a patient suffers from two or more chronic diseases simultaneously.

With little in the way of federal executive leadership, the war against Covid-19 was left up to the governors of the 50 states and to local authorities. The conventional narrative that red states favored opening up for the economy’s sake and blue states favored shutting down to save lives is overly simplistic, according to the report.

Most states adopted more of a purple approach whether they were run by Republican or Democratic governors – they chose to begin to open up when the virus seemed to be abating, as it was in May 2020, and close back down again whenever the virus came roaring back, as it did in the winter of 2020-2021.

Given the understandable angst that many Americans had over school closures, the report points to some fascinating data from UNESCO showing that in countries like France and Spain, schools closed or partly closed for only two weeks and 15 weeks, respectively. While in the US the average school closures lasted 77 weeks, which particularly affected children from disadvantaged communities and kids with disabilities. “Closed schools, even with remote education, failed many students, particularly those already most at risk for disrupted learning,” the report noted.

The UNESCO school data suggests that there must have been a more thoughtful way to manage American school closures. The report points to research about safe and smart ways to keep schools open that was undertaken by Covid Crisis Group member Danielle Allen of Harvard, Brown University, and the research institution, New America (where I work), as emblematic of an approach that could have been followed but wasn’t. It included developing infection prevention and control programs at each school.

Operation Warp Speed

The operation to develop workable vaccines was a true American success story. The report credits a framework outlined by Richard Danzig, a former US Secretary of the Navy with expertise in biowarfare, who wrote to an informal network of colleagues in late March 2020, advocating for “previously unthinkable government support” for vaccines financially and for expediting their laborious approval process.

Danzig also recommended invoking the Defense Production Act so that the manufacturing of the vaccines could be scaled up quickly. Danzig said that if the right resources were directed at developing a vaccine, it could be available as quickly as only six months, which would be an extraordinarily fast turnaround as typically effective vaccines take five to ten years to develop.

Danzig’s ideas helped germinate Operation Warp Speed, led on the Pentagon side by General Gustave Perna, an expert on logistics, and on the civilian side by a former Big Pharma executive, Dr. Moncef Slaoui. With political top cover provided by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who supported Operation Warp Speed, General Perna secured $26 billion to fund the operation, according to the report.

The vaccines that succeeded in Operation Warp Speed were based on messenger RNA (mRNA) rather than on a weakened or inactive form of the virus typical of many vaccines. Using mRNA, researchers made cells produce a protein that instigated the immune response against the coronavirus. The basic science of mRNA had been around for decades, but it had never been used in a workable vaccine.

Companies such as Pfizer and Moderna produced effective vaccines in just months. The government invested $1 billion in Moderna and placed another $1.5 billion order for 100 million vaccine doses. Pfizer didn’t take US government money during the research phase for its vaccine, but the government initially guaranteed to buy more than 100 million doses from Pfizer for $1.95 billion.

As Danzig had suggested, the Defense Production Act ensured that the materials needed to make the vaccines were quickly secured. At the same time, the government partnered with major American pharmacy chains to ensure that jabs got into arms quickly once they became available.

The report underlines how a perfect constellation of factors made Operation Warp Speed succeed, including the right leaders at the Pentagon and in the private sector harnessing existing, long-term basic research into mRNA. Operation Warp Speed was arguably the most significant achievement of President Trump and his administration.

You might have the best vaccines in the world, but that doesn’t do you much good if there are substantial percentages of your own population who are hesitant to be vaccinated.

A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine panel co-chaired by Dr. Helene Gayle – who had led efforts to combat AIDS at the CDC – warned in October 2020 that the CDC needed to develop a campaign using behavioral science and social marketing techniques while partnering with hospitals, faith-based organizations, and community centers to help increase vaccination uptake. But as the report notes, “That didn’t happen.”

Vaccinations also became politicized; by July 2022, 90% of Democrats reported being vaccinated to some level, compared to only 69% of Republicans. It turns out that your politics, in this case, could literally kill you.

During the Delta wave of Covid-19 in 2021 and the Omicron wave of 2022, “the vast majority of hospitalized patients were unvaccinated,” according to the report. By early 2022, one study found that there were somewhere between 120,000 and more than 350,000 excess deaths in the US because of vaccine hesitancy.

What should be done?

The key to preparing for the next pandemic is, of course, preparedness. The Covid Crisis Group underlines how “time is everything” when managing a possible pandemic, as just one week can mean the difference between a mere outbreak and the emergence of a full-blown pandemic. That means creating “early warning radars” worldwide that can detect emerging threats and ensuring the most stringent controls at labs around the world doing “gain of function” research so manipulated viruses don’t escape into the outside world.

The Covid Crisis Group has performed a major public service with its comprehensive investigation of the pandemic, an investigation that the US political system proved largely incapable of doing. This itself points to a general failure of American governance that the report underlines on many of its pages.

Still, the publication of this report by a group of concerned experts is also a testament to the enduring strengths of American civil society, which Alexis de Tocqueville had noted in his travels around the United States almost two centuries ago.

“The Return of the Taliban” book event with Hassan Abbass, New America ONLINE

[ONLINE] – The Return of the Taliban
Afghanistan After the Americans Left

Since the fall of Kabul in August, 2021, the Taliban have held effective control of Afghanistan—a scenario few Western commentators anticipated. Yet reestablishing control after a twenty-year-long bitter war against the Republic of Afghanistan poses a complex challenge. The Taliban is now facing debilitating threats—from humanitarian crises to the Islamic State in Khorasan—but also engaging on the world stage, particularly with China and central Asian states. What is the Taliban’s strategy now that they’ve returned to power? In his new book The Return of the Taliban, National Defense University Professor and former New America fellow Hassan Abbas examines the resurgent Taliban, profiles its key leaders, and provides an important look at conditions in Afghanistan today.

Join New America’s International Security Program for a discussion of the Taliban and Afghanistan after America. To discuss this topic, New America welcomes Hassan Abbas, author of The Return of the Taliban and Distinguished Professor of International Relations at the Near East South Asia Strategic Studies Center, National Defense University. He was a 2017 Carnegie Fellow and a 2018 Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America, and is the author of numerous books, including The Taliban Revival and The Prophet’s Heir.

Join the conversation online using #TalibanReturn and following @NewAmericaISP.


Hassan Abbas, @Watandost
Distinguished Professor of IR, National Defense University
Former New America Fellow


Peter Bergen, @peterbergencnn
Vice President, New America
Co-Director, Center on the Future of War, ASU
Professor of Practice, ASU
Co-Editor, Talibanistan

Why Biden’s promises on democracy ring a little hollow, CNN.com


Opinion: Why Biden’s support for democracy rings a little hollow
Opinion by Peter Bergen

Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of “The Cost of Chaos: The Trump Administration and the World.” The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN. View more opinion on CNN.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden is hosting a “Summit for Democracy” in Washington, DC. Obviously, the Taliban, the de facto government that rules Afghanistan today, won’t be attending this summit.

This makes the premise of the democracy summit ring somewhat hollow because while the Biden administration does an excellent job of trumpeting its commitments to democracy and women’s rights, only a year and a half ago, it cavalierly abandoned 40 million Afghans to the Taliban’s misogynistic theocracy.

As Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, President Biden said that Afghans didn’t fight to save their own country. Was this accurate? In fact, an estimated 66,000 Afghan soldiers and policemen died fighting the Taliban during the course of the war.

In August 2021, the last US soldiers left Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war. Their botched withdrawal was the final unhappy chapter of the two decades of the United States’ war in Afghanistan.

Will Americans learn anything from their mistakes and successes in Afghanistan? House Republicans, who are, of course, in the majority in the US Congress, are already holding hearings about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan during the first year of the Biden administration.

Some House Republicans are even advocating for impeachment proceedings against Biden, partly because of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, during which 13 American service personnel were killed at Kabul Airport by an ISIS suicide bomber, and at least 170 Afghans also died in the attack.

Of course, any examination of the US record in Afghanistan is something of a double-edged sword for Republicans since it was the Trump administration that signed the agreement with the Taliban in 2020 that set the stage for the total US withdrawal from Afghanistan. And the House committee investigating the January 6th attack on Congress also uncovered evidence that then-President Donald Trump planned to order all US troops out of Afghanistan just days before he left office. However, that order wasn’t carried out.

In addition to the Congressional hearings already underway, there is also an independent, congressionally mandated bipartisan Afghanistan War commission that has been formed to examine the two decades of the conflict. The commission comprises 16 experts, who worked in the US government, media and think tanks focusing on Afghanistan or related subjects.

Blinken subpoenaed by top Republican investigating Biden administration withdrawal from Afghanistan
This commission is desperately needed as history suggests that as much as Americans might want to put Afghanistan in the rear-view mirror — just as they did with the Vietnam War — overseas wars will continue to be part of the American story in the future.

The establishment of the Afghan War commission is significant because there was never a comprehensive examination of the conduct of the Iraq War by the US government as there was in the United Kingdom with the British Chilcot Inquiry. That inquiry generated a massive 6,000-page report that examined every aspect of Britain’s role in the Iraq war. (The US Army history of the Iraq war published in 2019 is authoritative but was necessarily focused on the military history of the conflict.)

There are many useful policy lessons to be learned from the US project in Afghanistan and how this avoidable tragedy unfolded. Below are 31 questions that the Congressional hearings examining the Afghan conflict and the Afghan War commission might try to answer.

These questions are grouped into five thematic areas: the early decision-making in the years after the fall of the Taliban and how it impacted the conflict; the nature of the US military challenges in Afghanistan; the political issues that made Afghanistan a challenging country to govern; the background around the withdrawal deal that the Trump administration inked with the Taliban in 2020, which the Biden administration then followed through on, and how the final chaotic US withdrawal in the summer of 2021 then played out.

Early Years

1. Just months after the 9/11 attacks at the battle of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan in December 2001, the leaders of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, were surrounded by Afghan fighters and a small number of US Special Forces and CIA personnel. How did the leaders of al Qaeda slip away to fight another day? And to what extent did this give the terrorist group another lease on life?

2. Did the December 2001 Bonn Agreement made between several anti-Taliban factions after the fall of the Taliban undermine the future Afghan government by imposing a centralized, top-down presidential structure on a country that has always been ruled in a decentralized manner?

3. Was there a moment in 2002 when a more just and lasting peace might have been reached with the Taliban when they were utterly defeated and some of their leaders were seeking a peace deal and possible integration into the Afghan political system?

4. To what extent did the 2003 Iraq War drain US military and intelligence resources and White House attention away from Afghanistan?

Military Challenges

5. What were the weaknesses of the Afghan army? And were some of those weaknesses, in part, the result of trying to mold that army into a US-style military?

6. Taliban leaders often lived in the safe haven of neighboring Pakistan, while the Taliban also recruited suicide bombers from Pakistani madrassas. Safe havens are often the key to success for insurgent groups, according to a 2001 RAND study of the issue. How important was the role of the Pakistani haven in the regrouping of the Taliban?

7. Pakistan has fought three major wars with India on its eastern border, so it has always wanted a pro-Pakistani Afghan government on its western border. Hence the Pakistani military doctrine known as “strategic depth,” which helps to explain Pakistan’s support for the Taliban. Given this fact, did the US ever have real policy options to reduce Pakistan’s support for the Taliban?

8. What were the sources of Taliban strength? Opposition to American and allied troops that were seen as “infidel” invaders? Anger at the corruption of the Afghan government and police? The Taliban’s control of the lucrative opium trade? Some combination of all of these?

Members of, A company, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, (4 SCOTS) on a Patrol from Patrol Base Attal in Afghanistan. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Independent probe into alleged extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan by British military begins
9. Between 2016 and 2020, more than two thousand Afghan civilians were killed in US or Afghan airstrikes, according to one analysis of UN data. How important were Afghan civilian casualties in fueling support for the Taliban?

10. How successful was the CIA drone program against al-Qaeda in Pakistan? The drones certainly decimated the leadership of al Qaeda. Still, they also engendered great Pakistani resentment against the US, particularly when the drone program was at its height during the Obama administration. This complicated US efforts to ally with the Pakistanis to fight jihadist groups based in Pakistan.

11. During the first year of the Obama administration in 2009, why was there a shift to a much larger mission that involved surging tens of thousands more US troops into Afghanistan? And how critical was the success of the “surge” of US troops in Iraq in 2008 in affecting military advice to President Obama about what to do in Afghanistan?

Political Issues

12. Widespread corruption was corrosive to the legitimacy of the Afghan government. Was that the key failure on the Afghan government side?

13. Flawed presidential elections produced flawed Afghan governments. How culpable were Afghanistan’s leaders like presidents Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani for what transpired in Afghanistan?

14. How damaging was the consistent US inconsistency about its Afghan policies during the two decades after 9/11, since most US diplomats and soldiers in Afghanistan served only one-year tours so they were typically reinventing the wheel on each rotation?

15. In all the discussion of the mistakes made in Afghanistan, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what went right in Afghanistan. In addition to the rise of independent media and the provision of education to girls and jobs for women, what else worked? Programs like the National Solidarity Programme, which offered small grants for public works to local communities in consultation with those communities?

The Withdrawal Agreement

16. Beginning with a speech by President Barack Obama in December 2009, the US started publicly announcing its plans to withdraw from Afghanistan. How important was the constant public discussion of the US withdrawals in undercutting the Afghan government?

17. How crucial was President Donald Trump’s also constant trumpeting of his planned withdrawal of US troops in undermining the Afghan government?

18. Why did Biden go through with the Trump agreement with the Taliban, even though the Taliban were observing almost none of the terms of the deal and his military advisers were warning that a total withdrawal would result in the collapse of the Afghan army and government?

19. In May 2021, the chief American negotiator with the Taliban, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, testified before a US congressional committee that anyone who thought that the Taliban would take over Afghanistan was “mistaken.” Khalilzad also asserted that the Taliban wanted normal relations with the rest of the world so that would positively affect their behavior. Why was he so wrong?

20. Did the Taliban win at the negotiating table from the Americans what they couldn’t win on the battlefield from them?

21. How vital was the exclusion of the elected Afghan government from the US-Taliban negotiations in undermining the government’s legitimacy?

22. In 2021, there were only 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan who were mostly serving as advisers to the Afghan military. Could there have been a politically sustainable policy for the U.S. to remain in Afghanistan? (The US has more than 25,000 troops today in South Korea, seven decades after the end of the Korean war.)

23. Might a US military policy of “go light, go long” have had the best chance of success in Afghanistan since it likely would have been more sustainable politically in the US and it would have reduced the visibility of the American military presence in Afghanistan?

24. To what extent did Biden’s experiences as vice president during the 2009 policy debates in the Obama administration about Afghanistan affect the outcome of Biden’s 2021 Afghanistan decision? In 2009 Biden was opposed to the Pentagon wanting to surge tens of thousands of US troops into Afghanistan, a debate that Biden lost. Did the scars from that debate help to inform Biden’s decision in 2021 to withdraw entirely from Afghanistan, despite the opposition of the Pentagon brass?

25. Did the Taliban ever really separate from al-Qaeda?

The Withdrawal

26. What were the key decision points during the withdrawal ordered by Biden – for instance, the closing of the massive Bagram Air Base near Kabul – and how did these decisions affect the calculus of the Afghan military and government?

27. Why did the Biden team reportedly ignore a “dissent” cable from State Department officials serving in Afghanistan in July 2021 that sounded the alarm about the deteriorating situation there? (The Republican head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul subpoenaed that cable on Tuesday.)

28. Why did the White House only convene its first high-level meeting on August 14, 2021, to discuss evacuation just hours before Kabul fell, according to a Congressional investigation by Senate Republicans?

29. How critical was President Ghani’s sudden departure from Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, to the collapse of the Afghan government?

30. Why were so many American allies left behind in Afghanistan? The Association of Wartime Allies, an advocacy group for Afghans who had worked for the US, estimated that only about 3% of the 81,000 Afghans who had worked for the US government and had applied for special visas, made it out of Afghanistan, leaving 78,000 behind.

31. Did the ignominious US withdrawal from Afghanistan affect Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to move an army to the Ukraine border three months later?

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 20 Years Later, ASU ONLINE

Join the Center on the Future of War for an event with Co-Director Peter Bergen to discuss Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 20 Years Later.

This is part of a series of events featuring faculty from the ASU Online M.A. in Global Security (MAGS) at Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies.

Peter Bergen is a journalist, documentary producer, vice president for global studies & fellows at New America, CNN national security analyst, professor of practice at Arizona State University, where he co-directs the Center on the Future of War and the author or editor of ten books, three of which were New York Times bestsellers and four of which were named among the best non-fiction books of the year by The Washington Post. The books have been translated into twenty-four languages. Documentaries based on his books have been nominated for two Emmys and won the Emmy for best documentary.

For more information contact:
ASU Center on the Future of War
School of Political Science and Global Studies