The UCLA Center for Middle East Development hosted the event, "The Fall of Afghanistan: A View from Washington," on October 7, 2021.
In the second event of CMED’s three-part Afghanistan and MENA series, experts from the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA), based at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, share their insights on the fall of Afghanistan and its implications for its neighbors in the Middle East and US foreign policy. Panelists discuss the military demise and resulting political collapse; prospects for a future inclusive government; the strategic impact of Afghanistan on regional states; emerging Great Power Competition; and the military and political implications for the US moving forward. Brief presentations were followed by audience Q&A.
The NESA Center is today the preeminent US Department of Defense institution for promoting security cooperation with partner countries in the NESA region. Established in 2000 when the US Department of Defense recognized the need for an organization dedicated to the challenging region extending from North Africa across the Arabian Peninsula and into South Asia, the NESA Center works to enhance security cooperation between the US and the Near East and South Asia by providing a collaborative space for policymakers to build security strategy and cultivate partnerships.
PANELIST— Dave Lamm is a Distinguished Military Graduate of Canisius College in Buffalo and was commissioned in 1977. Mr. Lamm assumed the duties as the Deputy Director of the NESA Center in 2010 after serving as the Chief of Staff (2007 - 2009). Mr. Lamm held a variety of staff and command positions before his role at NESA, beginning his career as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Support Platoon Leader, and Battalion Logistics Officer with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Infantry, Berlin Brigade. His later positions include Joint Staff’s Chief of Plans and Operations, Operations Directorate (Information Operations) from 1997 to 1999; Commander, US Army Central Command, Kuwait (2000-2002); and Chief of Staff, Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan (2004-2005). From 2006 to 2007, he served consecutively as the Director for Afghanistan and as the Interagency Coordinator for the Defense Policy Analysis Office, both in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. His analytical works include: “From Kabul to Baghdad and Back,” analyzing the key strategic decisions that shaped the courses of the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq; “Manning the Machine,” a critical examination of the Army’s individual replacement system, conducted for the Chief of Staff of the Army in 2001; “The Post-Cold War Army,” an analysis conducted for the Chief of Staff of the Army, later published in Military Review, (1991); “The War of 1812,” an annotated bibliography for the Book of Days.
PANELIST— Dr. Roger Kangas is the Academic Dean and a Professor of Central Asian Studies at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. Previously, Dr. Kangas served as a Professor of Central Asian Studies at the George C. Marshall Center for European Security in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Deputy Director of the Central Asian Institute at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC; Central Asian Course Coordinator at the Foreign Service Institute for the US Department of State; Research Analyst on Central Asian Affairs for the Open Media Research Institute (OMRI) in Prague, Czech Republic; and as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Kangas has been an advisor to the Combatant Commands, NATO/ISAF, the US Air Force Special Operations School, National Democratic Institute, International Research and Exchanges Board, American Councils, Academy for Educational Development, USIA, USAID, and other US government agencies on issues relating to Central and South Asia, Russia, and the South Caucasus. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. Dr. Kangas holds a BSFS in comparative politics from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a PhD in political science from Indiana University.
PANELIST— Professor Ali Jalali has been a Distinguished Professor at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA) at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, since October 2005. He is a former Interior Minister of Afghanistan (January 2003 - September 2005) and Afghanistan Ambassador to Germany (December 2016 - September 2018). As Interior Minister of post-Taliban Afghanistan, he created a trained force of 50,000 Afghan National Police (ANP) and 12,000 Border Police to work effectively in counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and criminal investigation to fight against organized crime and illegal border crossings. He successfully led the country-wide operations to protect the constitutional grand assembly (Loya Jirga) in 2003, the nationwide voters’ registration drive and landmark 2004 presidential election, and the parliamentary elections in 2005.
PANELIST— Professor Brianne Todd is an Assistant Professor of Central Asian Studies at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA), where her areas of expertise include transnational threats and regional security issues in Central Asia, Russia, and the Caucasus. Before joining the NESA Center in January 2010, she worked at the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, where she analyzed US and foreign defense, intelligence, and homeland security and counterterrorism policies; and the Eurasian Strategy Project, where she focused on Eurasian political and security issues. Additionally, she previously worked for the US Department of State in Washington, DC, where she was awarded the Franklin Award (2004), and the US Embassy in Moscow, Russia (2003). In addition to developing and facilitating the NESA Center’s programs in and with the countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), Professor Todd is a regular lecturer for the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management (DISAM) at Wright-Patterson AFB, the US Air Force Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, and the Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace Program (LDESP).
MODERATOR— Dr. Steven Spiegel is the Director of the UCLA Center for Middle East Development. He is also a research professor of political science, focusing on international relations and American foreign policy in the Middle East. He has written over 100 books, articles, and papers. He is the author of “The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making America’s Middle East Policy from Truman to Reagan,” and “World Politics in a New Era,” as well as one of the authors of "The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, 1989-2011."
Picture Descriptions (Left to right): C-17 carrying passengers out of Afghanistan (Credit: Air Mobility Command Public Affairs, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons); Morning in Kabul (Credit: Mohammad Rahmani, via Unsplash); Map of the Middle East (Credit: Getty Images Pro)