Miami faculty members discuss Afghanistan following Coll talk

By Meagan Holloway-Ragland and Charis Whalen

Following Monday’s critique of the U.S. War in Afghanistan by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, journalist and academic Steve Coll, the Observer invited three Miami University faculty members with expertise on the subject to discuss Coll’s talk and offer their own insights on the longest war fought by the United States.

The local experts are: 

  • Nathan French, associate professor of comparative religion. His academic research includes how contemporary Jihadi-Salafi movements, such as al-Qa’ida and ISIS, appropriate and re-interpret Islamic law and theology.
  • Rosemary Pennington, associate professor of media, journalism & film. Pennington’s scholarly research has focused on the way media represents members of marginalized or minority groups, with a specific focus on the representation of Muslims.
  •  Homayun Sidky, professor of anthropology. He is an ecological anthropologist, with strong interests in the history and theory of anthropology, and the anthropology of religion. He has done fieldwork in Afghanistan.

Their hour-long discussion, divided into four clips, can be seen here in its entirety.

In the first clip (see above), the three discuss where they were when the 9/11 attacks occurred and how the discourse around them began and changed over the 20 years that the United States was in Afghanistan.

In the second clip, they talk about new coverage of the 9/11 attacks and U.S. intervention into Afghanistan and what the responsibility of the media is in covering the Taliban going forward.

In the third clip, they react to Coll’s quote, “America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were disastrous to U.S. interests and standing.”

In the fourth and final clip, the experts offer insights on what lessons can and should be learned by the U.S. and the public following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, 2021.