Insurgency is Easier than Governing: The Future of the Taliban in Afghanistan

Marjah elders schedule regular meetings, offer bridge to community

With the fall of President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces, most of Afghanistan is now under the control of the Taliban. In this episode of Horns of a Dilemma, we are joined by Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the director of the Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors at Brookings, and by Scott R. Anderson, a visiting fellow in governance studies at Brookings, a senior editor and counsel for Lawfare, and a senior fellow with the National Security Law Program at Columbia Law School. Felbab-Brown and Anderson discuss the outlook for the Taliban as they seek to shift from insurgency to governance.  The discussion covers questions of formal legal recognition, as well as questions of legitimacy and capacity for governance. Our guests explain why exercising power as the government of Afghanistan is likely to be more challenging for the Taliban than defeating the previous government was. As Dr. Felbab-Brown observed, “it’s much easier to be an insurgent than a governor.”

Image: Photo by Lance Cpl. James W. Clark, via Flickr