On September 21, International Security Studies hosted the Virtual Discussion Forum, “Afghanistan: Where Do We Go From Here?” featuring Jackson Senior Fellows Amb. Anne Patterson and Rory Stewart and Yale alum Wazhma Sadat ’14, JD ’19.

International Security Studies— dedicated to the study of history, grand strategy, and global security—will become a new research hub of the Jackson Institute on October 1.

More than 150 attendees tuned in for the discussion, the second installment in a two-part series on Afghanistan.

Sadat is an attorney and an advocate for women’s access to education; she lived under Taliban rule during the 90s and still has family in the country. During the discussion, she shared insight on the humanitarian crisis facing her home country and her thoughts on what the international community can do to help. Sadat also described the ordeal of helping family members flee following the U.S. withdrawal in August.

Stewart, the former UK secretary of State for International Development who has spent significant time working in Afghanistan, talked about the dire financial situation brought on by the collapse of the banking system and Afghanistan’s reliance on foreign aid. Despite some NGOs continuing to operate in the country, “there are no mechanisms to allow aid money to hit the ground,” he said.

Amb. Anne Patterson, a retired Career Diplomat whose service included time as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, gave a frank assessment of the impact that sanctions would have. “U.S. sanctions are a financial death grip,” she said. Preventing economic collapse in Afghanistan should be the primary concern, Patterson said, otherwise mass starvation and migration may follow.

Sadat cautioned that withholding international aid from the Taliban government may not offer much leverage. “This movement has really suffered through hunger and poverty itself and really seems to prioritize other things over economic prosperity and creating a vibrant society,” she said.

“It has depended on the trade of illegal drugs, including opium and the trade of terrorism to run its movements as well as its government the last time it was ruling the country. I would be a little bit hesitant to think that the Taliban are going to compromise completely or are really waiting for foreign aid,” Sadat added.

Watch the recording