October 18, 2017

Security Studies Professor Brings New Take on U.S. Security Policy to Afghanistan

Security Studies professor Christine Fair, a recipient of an International Travel Grant from the Office of the Vice President of Global Engagement, presented her analysis of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan at the fourth annual Afghanistan-Central Asia Dialogue (ACAD) conference on July 14 in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

Fair spoke alongside Afghanistan’s top dignitaries, including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Governor of Bamyan Mohammad Tahir Zaher, as well as public officials and scholars representing 12 nations in Asia and the Western Hemisphere.

Cooperation in Central Asia

The ACAD is an international forum hosted by the Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) that promotes global cooperation on Central Asian security, economic, and cultural issues. This year’s conference focused on the intersection of geopolitics and terrorism, discussing the ways Afghanistan and its neighboring countries can use their common security structure to combat terrorism.

Though the conference is primarily dedicated to Central Asian issues, attendees also discussed strategies to strengthen cooperation between Central Asia and its global partners, including the United States, China, NATO, and the United Nations.

Fair, who brought an American voice to the dialogue, praised the conference for allowing her to hear new and unique perspectives on regional issues affecting Afghanistan and the Central Asian community.

“Such conferences are critical to garnering a regional perspective of how Afghanistan’s neighbors view the political and military developments in the region,” said Fair. “I always come away from these conferences having learned something new and often from an entirely different point of view.”

Proposals for New Policies

Fair presented her latest paper, “Pakistan's Deadly Grip on Afghanistan,” in the conference’s sixth panel titled “Afghanistan: From Great Game to Great Consensus.”

Fair advocated for the U.S. Armed Forces to limit their use of Pakistani land and air space and for Washington to scale back its financial and military support to Islamabad. Fair also called for U.S. officials to strengthen United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267, which would identify and condemn anyone who provides support to terrorist groups and individuals.

According to Fair, her talking points were met with enthusiasm from Afghan attendees as well as members of the international community. She hopes that sharing her perspective at conferences like these will advance discussion of her policy recommendations, ultimately leading to a more secure Afghanistan. 

An International Community

Fair had the opportunity to engage in a discussion with Fawzia Koofi, a member of parliament in Afghanistan, and Dr. Habiba Sarabi, deputy chair of the High Peace Council in Afghanistan. She also spoke with diplomats from India’s mission in Afghanistan, members of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, and other regional and European stakeholders.

Fair expressed that she has had difficulty meeting with representatives from countries with strained U.S. relations. The ACAD, however, presented her with an opportunity to interact with these diplomats on critical security issues.

“What I find particularly helpful about this conference is that I get to interact with diplomats from countries that would be otherwise very difficult to meet,” she said. “For example, it is extremely difficult for most Americans to interact with diplomats from Iran, China, and Russia on issues pertaining to South Asia. The AISS affords rare opportunities for me to do so.”