The U.S. military officially withdrawals from Afghanistan. What does this mean?

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The U.S. is now officially out of Afghanistan, with the last U.S. military planes leaving. What does the withdrawal mean for the future of Afghanistan and how could it impact U.S. national interests? We asked John Carlson, with ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

“The United States as well as Afghanistan is reckoning with what has happened over the last 20 years, it is a very sudden abrupt difficult reckoning with very high stakes for both countries,” Carlson said.

Carlson reckons that there are private conversations regarding how to effectively evacuate those still in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The question is how successful those negotiations will be, Carlson said.

“Right now there’s an approximate overlap of U.S and Taliban interests in both the Americans getting out and perhaps also the benefits that could come if they cooperate with U.S forces,” Carlson said.

What future do Afghans see for themselves? Carlson said it is hard to understand.

“It’s going to be the most kind of abrupt turmoil for people who are living in cities and are accustomed to more cosmopolitan values where the women in particular have far more opportunities,” Carlson said.

With regards to how optimistic Carlson is about the future of Afghanistan, he emphasized it is hard to know what the future will bring.

“I like many people am holding my breath and I hope we will see some kinds of reforms come to place, but I am not overly optimistic,” Carlson said.

John Carlson, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, ASU School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Interim Director, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict

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