Rachel Boyer, researcher at Freemuslim Association, Center for De-Radicalization and Extremism Prevention, attended the event “Tell me how this ends?: Military advice, strategic goals, and the ‘forever war’ in Afghanistan” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Following a report written by the senior advisor at CSIS about American intervention in Afghanistan, panelists David Barno, Linda Robinson, and Jonathan Schroden came together to discuss their expertise and advice on ending an 18 year military occupation in Afghanistan.

David Barno initiated the dialogue about the idea of an end state in Afghanistan, which he argued is established to a fault, and cannot even be realistic in practice until the nature of the conflict is identified. Linda Robinson agreed with him, and suggested that the American approach thus far has either been too maximalist or too minimalist. One point she pushed during this panel was the importance of involving civilians in the conversation and actions of the military. The purpose of military intervention is to provide the country and inherently the citizens with a safer and more secure lifestyle, which cannot be achieved unless the civilians participate in the dialogue.

Jonathan Schroden spoke of the high turnover rate for endstates, and that this high rate would eliminate any chance of success that a state could have; in response, this would create an economy of force. Furthermore, all the panelists recognized that American intervention is not necessarily vital in maintaining or building peace. They all settled with the stance that the country itself should be fighting their own fight, and that outside interference cannot sustain harmony in a state.

One of the questions posed by Schroden was what it actually means to defeat Al-Qaeda, and if removing all safe havens for terrorists would make the United States or other countries safer. The replies were vast, but two answers in particular stood out: civilian participation and political achievement. Linda Robinson explained these concepts in great detail, covering an analysis that the military needs more structured guidance and leadership to be effective, which includes noncombatants voicing their opinions as well. The importance of working together as a team rather than as one entity fighting against another is the most productive way to ensure stability in a nation. In order to build a nation, looking to the literature and history of other nations is beneficial, as an endgame is feasible with some form of political achievement

We at Freemuslim Association, Center for De-Radicalization and Extremism Prevention, urge all nations to coexist peacefully without violence. The way this can be achieved is to limit long term and brutal military occupations, and rather interact with others in a manner that equates to the end goal of peace and safety.