Ryan Crocker

Diplomat-in-Residence at Princeton University

Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessing America’s Wars in a Time of Pandemic

About the Topic

This lecture is only open to OTR members and will be held via Zoom Webinar. All members received the registration information via email. If you did not receive the email or have any questions please contact the office at otr@fpa.org.


The Taliban are many things: drug dealers, violent abusers of women, and terrorists. But there’s one thing they are not: stupid,” writes John Allen, President of the Brookings Institution and retired USMC four-star general. He argues the Taliban sense an advantage knowing it is a U.S. election year with an incumbent President determined to end the 19-year war in Afghanistan. The U.S.-Taliban peace deal signed on February 29th calls for the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops. It is contingent on a guarantee that the Taliban will not enable terrorists hostile to the U.S. to operate on Afghan territory. The deal is already in trouble. In Iraq, a new uncertainty lurks since the U.S. assassination of Iran's major general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3rd. The death of a military mastermind brings renewed impetus to Iran’s allies and more strife in Iraq. What are prospects for the U.S. exit from Afghanistan? How might Soleimani’s death impact the U.S. role in Iraq and the broader Middle East? And how does the COVID-19 pandemic impact America’s strategy in these intractable conflicts?

About the Speaker

An extraordinary diplomat, Ryan Crocker served as U.S. Ambassador six times: Afghanistan (2011-2012), Iraq (2007-2009), Pakistan (2002-2007), Syria (1998-2001), Kuwait (1994-1997), and Lebanon (1990-1993). Awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2009, Crocker also holds the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the Foreign Service. Today he is a Visiting Lecturer and Diplomat-in-Residence at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.