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I encourage you to write about the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the current peace talks, and the possibility that additional U.S. troops might be withdrawn next year under President Biden, and in general what you think might happen next year or what you think the U.S. should do. However it is also OK to write a more historical essay, maybe just about some of what has happened so far in the Afghan War, or maybe just about the rise of the Taliban, or if you wish you could even go back and write about the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and U.S. involvement at that time. The only requirement is that your essay have something to do with Afghanistan and U.S. policy toward Afghanistan, in any time period.
In several class memos I have given you links to articles and videos about Afghanistan, mostly relating to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and also some about the Taliban and the ongoing peace talks between the Taliban and the current Afghan government.
Here is a link to one more highly relevant story. It is not a terribly important story by itself, but it is very recent, and it has a variety of background that will help you understand the current situation in Afghanistan and help you understand this assignment. If you have not yet read the Afghanistan articles or viewed the videos, and feel panicked by this assignment, I think if you read this one article here you will have a better idea of what you can do for the essay.
Joint Chiefs chairman meets with Taliban on peace talks
Although Milley reported no breakthrough, his Taliban meetings represent a remarkable milestone.
OK, so basically, for your final essay, you need to figure out something to say about U.S. policy toward Afghanistan. One obvious possible approach to doing the story would address this kind of issue: Within Afghanistan, the war is basically between the current Afghan government, supported by the United States and other NATO countries, and the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the U.S. invasion. The United States has already pulled out most of its soldiers but still has some there. Very broadly speaking, the Afghan government is less fervently religious, and shows more respect for women’s rights, than the Taliban, which is very fervently religious and says the country should live by Sharia law, and would seriously restrict women’s rights compared to the current situation if they once again take over power in the country, which is the goal they have been fighting for.
So in trying to think of how to write your essay, one possibility is to imagine as if you were a U.S. voter and there were several candidates with varying positions concerning Afghanistan. One candidate says the U.S. troop numbers are already too low, and that next year President Biden should send more troops back in to head off a possible Taliban victory. Another says that the number of troops President Trump is leaving behind is just about right, and Biden should maintain that number and continue to support the Afghan government with those forces. A third says that the number of soldiers Trump is leaving behind is not enough to stop the Taliban from winning the war if there is no peace deal with the Afghan government, and will just pull the U.S. back into the fighting if the Taliban get even stronger, and that it will be better for President Biden to pull out the remaining U.S. troops and let the Afghan government survive or fall on its own power – more or less what the United States did in Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War. To write your essay, you could pick one of those three choices, or pick some other option, and explain why you picked it. This is not too hard, and you don’t need to do a brilliant job – you just need to make some arguments and quote a few articles.
There is no need to set up your essay as if you are a voter. I’m not really suggesting that. I’m just trying to make the point that it is possible to analyze things and it is possible to have opinions about things without being at all an expert, and that in the real world this is actually necessary because ordinary citizens need to make decisions about things such as how to vote, and that votes should be based partly on some degree of understanding of current events.


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