Geopolitics
Geopolitics
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Episode 206
Featuring Jonathan Schroden
Jonathan Schroden discusses the humanitarian and political disaster that is currently unfolding in Afghanistan, including the merits of withdrawal, reasons behind America’s failure, and the longer-term implications for American foreign policy, terrorism, and the security of Western interests in the Greater Middle East.

In Episode 206 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Jonathan Schroden, Director of the Countering Threats & Challenges Program at CNA. Schroden has served as a strategic advisor on Afghanistan to the US military since 2008, ranging from commands in-country to operational commands outside of Afghanistan, as well as strategic elements in the Pentagon, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

In the first part of today’s conversation, Jonathan and Demetri examine the lens through which the public has become informed about the events unfolding in Kabul over the last two weeks and the public narrative that has quickly formed around what is truly a humanitarian and political disaster.  

The question however that has been lost in all of this is why the United States is leaving Afghanistan in the first place, the cost-calculation behind the decision to withdraw, and how this decision fits into a broader strategic shift in the focus of American Foreign policy.

In the second half the two focus on the specific elements that contributed to America’s defeat in Afghanistan, from the adroit battlefield tactics of the Taliban and their use of commercial technologies to fight an information war to massive corruption on the part of America’s partners in the Afghan government. We also look at the ecosystem of terrorist organizations operating in-country and the international threat they pose to Americans, as well as the geopolitical implications of America’s withdrawal for countries like China and Russia, as well as the supporting role played by Pakistan to aid the Taliban in its 20-year resistance against the US occupation.

The goal of this episode, as well as our recent episode with Laurel Miller, is to help you fill in the gaps and put together some of the important pieces that have gone missing in what has largely been a unanimous condemnation of the President’s actions. By the end of this episode, you should be able to understand clearly (1) what went wrong, (2) why it went wrong, (3) and the larger, longer-term implications for the tragic events that are currently unfolding.

You can access the episode Overtime, as well as the transcript and rundown to this week’s episode through the Hidden Forces Patreon Page. All subscribers gain access to our overtime feed, which can be easily added to your favorite podcast application.

If you enjoyed listening to today’s episode of Hidden Forces you can help support the show by doing the following:

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Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Subscribe & Support the Podcast at https://patreon.com/hiddenforces

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Follow Demetri on Twitter at @Kofinas

Episode Recorded on 08/24/2021

Play
Episode 189
Featuring Niall Ferguson
Episode 189
Featuring Niall Ferguson

Dr. Jonathan Schroden is the Director of CNA’s Countering Threats and Challenges Program (CTCP), whose mission is to support US government efforts to better understand and counter state and non-state threats and challenges. CTCP includes geographic research portfolios focused on the Middle East, Africa, South and Central Asia, Latin America, and North Korea.

It also includes functional portfolios focused on terrorism and counterterrorism, security cooperation, and irregular, proxy, and information warfare.

Dr. Schroden also directs CNA’s Special Operations Program, which focuses on bringing CNA’s “full spectrum” research and analysis capabilities to bear on the most complex and challenging issues facing special operations forces (SOF) today and in the future.

Dr. Schroden has been with CNA since 2003, during which time he has deployed or traveled 13 times to Afghanistan (twice at the request of the Commander, ISAF and once at the request of the Commander, CSTC-A) and twice to Al Anbar, Iraq; traveled throughout the Middle East; gotten underway with numerous Navy ships; and supported Hurricane Katrina disaster relief operations. Jonathan has served as a strategic advisor to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Multi-National Force – West in Iraq, US Central Command, and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He also served as CNA’s first interim advisor to Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. Most recently, Jonathan directed CNA’s independent review of the US Marine Corps’ force design and the congressionally-mandated independent assessment of special operations force structure. Schroden is also an adjunct professor at George Washington University where he lectures on military power and effectiveness, and US special operations.

Schroden holds PhD and MS degrees from Cornell University and BS degrees from the University of Minnesota – Duluth. His decorations include CNA's Phil E. DePoy Award for Analytic Excellence and the Cornell University Tunis Wentink Award. He has published in written publications such as Journal of Strategic Studies, Defense and Security Analysis, Naval War College Review, The Diplomat, Sentinel, Armed Forces Journal, and Journal of the American Chemical Society. He has published online in venues such as War on the Rocks, Lawfare, Politico, Real Clear Defense, The National Interest, and Small Wars Journal. He is also a frequent commentator on television (e.g., BBC, VOA, TRT World, France 24, Indus News), radio (e.g., BBC NewsHour, NPR’s Morning Edition and Here and Now), podcasts (e.g., Lawfare Live, WarCast, PopularFront), and print (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NBC News, CNN, The Economist, The Diplomat, Financial Times, Politico, RFE/RL, Stars and Stripes, VOA, Reuters, Associated Press, al-Monitor, Military Times, Yahoo! News). You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@jjschroden) and LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanschroden).

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