Open Lecture on Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan

The Islamist group quickly took control of the country upon evacuation of the US. || Photo Courtesy of Zabi Karimi • AP

Professor Bassem Hassan discussed the role the US played in the rise of the extremist group

“I believe in the transformational power of liberty. I believe that the free Iraq is in this nation’s interests. I believe a free Afghanistan is in this nation’s interest,” said George W. Bush at a press conference at the University of Miami in 2004. The primary goal of invading Afghanistan was under the guise of responding to the 9/11 terror attacks; however, according to Doctor Bassem Hassan, the Bush Administration had other, ulterior motives.  

Hassan is a professor of Political Science at CU Denver. He has taught at CU for the better part of the decade, and frequently returns to Egypt to help the nation with democratic ambitions. At a lecture on Sept. 14 in the CU Denver Student Commons building, he discussed the past, present, and future for Afghanistan.   

Primarily, he describes the war in Afghanistan as a microcosm of colonialism. The long-term goal of the US was to instate a Western government in Afghanistan, in turn creating a valuable ally in the region along with Israel. The US then planned on eventually turning their focus towards the greater Middle East and Muslim world. 

“The aftermath of the war in Afghanistan caused the deaths of 929,000 people and displaced another 38 million. The war cost eight trillion of the United States’ budget and another $14 trillion from the Pentagon’s budget. The goal of a reinstallation of Western civilization has failed at the cost of trillions of taxpayer dollars and nearly a million lives lost,” explained Hassan. 

To understand the quick downfall of the US Government in the region, it is imperative to understand the greater context of how the Taliban began, says Hassan. The Taliban started out in 1994 as a rebel group fighting in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion. While their processes of adjudicating law are controversial, they were consistent with punishments. They initially fought warlords who committed crimes against small communities that lacked the infrastructure to defend themselves.  

When the United States invaded after 9/11, the Taliban had ample propaganda to promote their agenda through the lens of saving the nation from neo-colonialists. As US-caused civilian casualties mounted, our government deliberately played down the numbers of civilian deaths to maintain support for the war. As support for the US among Afghan civilians lowered, the Taliban had their opportunity to convince the civilians that their beliefs were within the community’s best interests. Once this shift occurred, the war was lost.  

There have now been four major invasions of Afghanistan from Western nations since the 19th century: the British in 1838 and 1878, the Soviets in 1979, and most recently the United States in 2001. None of these major nations successfully instated a government in the mountainous region; it is difficult to imagine the Taliban will be able to unify the nation either. 

 The future of Afghanistan now depends on five specific issues: the preservation of Taliban unity, decisions regarding long-term state-building, collection of leftover U.S. munitions, conflicting regional borders, and what Qatar or Turkey choose to do with the situation.  

While there are no more scheduled public lectures with Professor Hassan, be on the lookout on CU’s events page for updates.

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