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NC professors weigh in on U.S. international relations after collapse of Afghanistan government

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 7:19 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -The Afghanistan government that the United States was backing for decades has collapsed and in its wake, the return of leaders with a violent history. “The only Afghanistan that’s there to support right now is the Taliban one, and those that are trying to, or those that cooperated with the United States that are trying to get out,” said UNC-Chapel Hill International Relations Professor, Navin Bapat.

As forces pull back and insurgents take over, Bapat says the U.S. will be looking to shore up cooperation with surrounding countries. “The United States may be able to cooperate with some of the neighbors of Afghanistan and they might want some support given their concerns about the Taliban, but that remains to be seen.”

Bapat projects U.S. impact will never be what it was. “I don’t think the United States will ever have as strong a hand that it did unless it goes back and I doubt there’s a very big appetite to do that.”

The Taliban claims they will respect women’s rights, forgive those who resisted them and secure Afghanistan. Bapat said these promises probably are not genuine.“In the immediate term, the Taliban doesn’t need any enemies and they’re going to need all the assistance, they can get presumably. So, I think this is an effort to try to calm things down for them.”

Associate History Professor, Mona Russell thinks with all eyes on the Taliban they may rein in some of the more brutal aspects of their reputation. “Does this mean that they’re going to be, you know, fighters for women’s rights? No. But they probably aren’t going to go back to doing exactly the same types of things.”

As for the thousands desperate to flee the country, Bapat said the U.S. has an obligation to help. “What the United States can do at this point, it can admit refugees, it can try to provide some assistance, it can encourage other bordering states,” Bapat explained.