Geopolitics
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Episode 205
Featuring Laurel Miller
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Laurel Miller, Director of International Crisis Group’s Asia Program who previously served as acting Special Representative for Afghanistan & Pakistan in the U.S. State Department. The two discuss the recent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, along with political and geopolitical implications.

In Episode 205 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Laurel Miller, Director of International Crisis Group’s Asia Program who previously served as deputy and then acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in the U.S. State Department. Laurel also held the position of senior foreign policy expert at the RAND Corporation and served as a Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Senior Advisor to the U.S. special envoy for the Balkans, and Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues during her previous time in government.

Today’s episode is meant to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the situation currently unfolding in Afghanistan, the unique circumstances leading up to the collapse of the Afghan government, and the political and geopolitical implications of the reconstitution of a Taliban-led Afghanistan for the United States, its allies, as well as its competitors in the region.

The first hour of Demetri’s conversation with Laurel is about the specific events that transpired in Afghanistan over the last several weeks, specifically looking at the contributing factors that led to the seemingly sudden collapse of the Afghan army and the evacuation of the capital by President Ghani and other members of the Afghan government. What were the facts on the ground leading up to the collapse? Who was aware of those facts? And why did the Biden Whitehouse and the US State and Defense departments fail so astonishingly in planning for this contingency?

The two also discuss the history of America’s involvement in Afghanistan, if things could have turned out differently, and what could have been done differently in the context of what we knew then and the priorities and risks facing previous administrations going back to George W. Bush in 2001.

The second half of this conversation is spent looking forward at not only the various scenarios for how Afghanistan’s political and economic future is likely to play out under a Taliban regime, but also how the US’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan changes the geopolitical chessboard for other regional players like Russia, China, Pakistan, India, and Iran, who have a complex set of competing security and commercial interests in Central Asia, along with an equally complex set of bilateral strategic relationships with Afghanistan’s neighbors, as well as with each other. Kofinas and Miller also discuss the political and diplomatic fallout stemming from how the Biden administration is perceived to have handled this withdrawal and its implications for the upcoming midterm and presidential elections in 2022 and 2024. Finally, the talk about how all of this impacts America’s strategic relationships with its allies, in particular its European partners like Germany and the UK, who played such an integral role in the mission to rebuild Afghanistan over the last two decades. 

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 08/23/2021

Play
Episode 189
Featuring Niall Ferguson
Episode 189
Featuring Niall Ferguson

Laurel Miller serves as Director of International Crisis Group’s Asia Program, where she leads the organization’s research, analysis, and policy advocacy about and in the region. She joined Crisis Group in January 2019.

Prior to joining Crisis Group, Laurel was a senior foreign policy expert at the RAND Corporation, 2017-2018 and 2009-2013. Her research and analysis at RAND covered a wide range of subjects including conflict resolution, democratization, institution-building, and anti-corruption in countries throughout the world. From 2013 to mid-2017, Laurel was the deputy and then acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Department of State.

During previous U.S. government service, she was Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Senior Advisor to the U.S. special envoy for the Balkans, and Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. She was directly involved in peace negotiations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Laurel also served as Director for western hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council.

Laurel was a senior expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she focused on constitution-making, rule of law development, and transitional justice. She has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown. Earlier, Laurel practiced law with Covington & Burling in Washington, DC, and Brussels. She was an International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. Laurel is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago Law School.

Laurel has been widely interviewed including by the BBC, CNN, The Economist, The New York Times, NPR, PBS NewsHour, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. She has published commentaries in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Los Angeles Times, The National Interest, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.

Laurel edited and co-authored an extensive study of constitution-making processes, “Framing the State in Times of Transition” (USIP Press, 2010). Her RAND publications include “Envisioning a Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Afghanistan” (2019), “Democratization in the Arab World” (2012), “Building a More Resilient Haitian State” (2010), and “Overcoming Obstacles to Peace” (2013).

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