On November 8, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry visited Stanford Law School to share his perspective on new U.S. policies toward Afghanistan. Ambassador Eikenberry presented to a packed classroom of Stanford law students, faculty, and community members. Professor Erik Jensen and Mehdi Hakimi, Executive Director of Stanford’s Rule of Law Program, moderated the discussion and provided additional thoughts about U.S. policy in Afghanistan.
To help audience members develop a foundational understanding of the U.S. approach in Afghanistan, Ambassador Eikenberry began by explaining the recent history of U.S. military involvement there. He proceeded to share insights about the U.S. policy in Afghanistan under former President Obama and the direction that the policy is heading under President Trump. Highlights included Ambassador Eikenberry’s analysis of the U.S.’s decision to be less transparent about when its troops will withdraw, the moral implications of pulling troops out of Afghanistan, the relationship between U.S. policy in Afghanistan and U.S. policy in Pakistan, and the overall feasibility of using U.S. policy to promote sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
In addition to the military aspects of the new U.S. policy, the discussion explored how U.S. strategy impacts Afghanistan’s development and the rule of law. Mehdi Hakimi shared insights about recent progress—and challenges—relating to freedom of expression, education, and human rights generally. He also emphasized the role of regional actors in promoting the stability and prosperity of Afghanistan.
Ambassador Eikenberry was the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from April 2009 until July 2011. He was also the Commander of American-led coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007. Ambassador Eikenberry is currently a faculty member, Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow, and Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. He is also a Stanford University Professor of Practice and an affiliate at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute. He has earned many military awards and has leadership or governance roles with influential foreign policy organizations.
About ALEP: Founded in 2007, the Afghanistan Legal Education Project (ALEP) at Stanford Law School develops innovative legal curricula to help Afghanistan’s universities train the next generation of lawyers and leaders. ALEP is one of the projects under Stanford Law School’s Rule of Law Program. For more on ALEP, see: https://law.stanford.edu/alep.
About Rule of Law Program: Established in 1999, Stanford Law School’s Rule of Law Program is the University’s vehicle for promoting the study and practice of international rule of law and development. The program serves as the scholastic and administrative umbrella for Rule of Law projects in various countries. For more on the program, see: https://law.stanford.edu/rule-of-law-program.