On September 21st at 2:00 PM, you will hear our bell ring 21 times to mark the International Day of Peace. During the ringing, you might wish to reflect on the state and significance of peace in our world today. Additionally, we encourage you to join us on the Parrish Beach by the Trotter Bell Tower at this time. After the ringing finishes, we will hold a moment of silence, a few words will be shared on the importance of this day, and we’ll form a giant peace sign. On behalf of the Peace & Conflict Studies Program and the Lang Center, we hope to see you all there!
Come join the Political Science Department at the Brown Bag Lunch Thursday, September 16th at 12:30pm to hear Professor Tierney give a short talk on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the international consequences. Email email@example.com to RSVP. The event will be held in Parrish Tent and lunch will be provided.
Professor of Political Science Dominic Tierney recently joined Matt Leon of KYW Newsradio to discuss the American withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of conflict and what could’ve been done differently to prevent the resurgence of the Taliban.
Tierney argues that the rapid collapse of the Afghan government was not preordained in 2001 but had become increasingly predictable over the most recent weeks and months. Most surprising, however, seemed to be the lack of armed conflict that preceded the Taliban’s return to power.
“By and large, commanders of the Afghan army surrendered and basically negotiated deals in a process that had probably been in the works for a very long time,” Tierney tells Leon. “It speaks to the deeper issue that we have never really understood the local dynamics in Afghanistan. It may as well have been on the moon from the view of most Americans and, frankly, most D.C. politicians.”
Tierney also discusses the history of American involvement in Afghanistan since 2001 and identifies a lack of nuance in U.S. foreign policy as a potential cause for ultimate failure in Kabul.
“In 2002, the Taliban reached out to the United States and basically stated that they were willing to accept a negotiated deal,” says Tierney. “The amazing thing is that the Bush administration … didn’t even consider it. At the time, we thought the Taliban and the al-Qaeda were the same guys. They were the bad guys, and we were going to put all of them in one bucket and take them out.”
He argues that this “crusading mindset” led the U.S. to waste the leverage it had at the time and allowed the Taliban to slowly reemerge by 2006, culminating in a nationwide insurgency.
Looking ahead, Tierney believes that it will take time before one can evaluate the impact of President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw, especially as it relates to the rights of the nation’s girls and women.
“It’s very certain that there will be restrictive dress and things like that,” he says. “However, the hopeful story is that Afghanistan ends up looking like Iran: a theocracy, rather than Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale. Maybe we could see the Taliban accepting women as doctors and midwives, and allow them to have some education. Hopefully, regional powers can use their leverage to strongly pressure the Taliban to allow some rights.”
Tierney also appeared in other outlets, such as The Guardian, to discuss recent developments in Afghanistan:
All are invited to an event on Tuesday (April 20) at 7:00 p.m.: “Religion, Race, and Environmental Activism after Standing Rock” at Montclair State University. Professor Smithey will participate in the panel that follows a screening of Half-Mile, Upwind, On Foot.
A number of major civil rights organizations, including The Fellowship of Reconciliation, the SNCC Legacy Project, and the Highlander Center, came together this month to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s April 4, 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” in which he for the first time publicly advocated for an end to the U.S. war in Vietnam. Dr. King was assassinated exactly one year later after delivering the speech. The nation-wide webinar, “Breaking the Silence: An Intergenerational Call for Unity” occurred on the anniversary of the speech and consisted of its public reading as well as a panelist discussion.
The event organizers also invited groups to host local readings of the King speech–a call readily taken up by the Swarthmore community. Professor Lee Smithey (Peace and Conflict Studies) in cooperation with Professor Edwin Mayorga (Educational Studies) coordinated Swarthmore College’s reading. The project included a full gamut of community voices, including students, faculty, administrators, alums, and more. The video recording of the college’s reading can be found below.
Cosponsors at Swarthmore College include: Educational Studies Department; Peace and Conflict Studies Program; Black Studies Program; Intercultural Center; Women’s Resource Center; The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility; Department of Sociology and Anthropology; TriCo Asian American Studies; Department of Religion; History Department; Beit Midrash; The Interfaith Center; Student Government Organization; ENLACE; Intercultural Center Interns; QuestBridge; Swarthmore Queer Union; Petey Greene Program.