The American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen address the questions we’re all asking in their podcast, “What the Hell Is Going On?” In conversational, informative and irreverent episodes, Pletka and Thiessen interview policymakers and experts, asking tough, probing questions about the most important foreign policy and security challenges facing the world today.
WTH is happening on the ground in Afghanistan? WSJ reporter Yaroslav Trofimov on his travels around post-US withdrawal, the reshuffling of global power relations, and the future of a Taliban controlled state
Following the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, there is much debate about how America’s exit will impact its reputation on the world stage and whether rivals such as China and Russia will benefit. While President Biden has justified the withdrawal decision on the grounds of refocusing American strategic priorities around the globe, other countries are now seeking to expand their influence with the newly established Taliban-controlled government of Afghanistan.
Yaroslav Trofimov joined Dany and Marc to discuss his reporting from Afghanistan, the global balance of power now that the US has left, the goals and priorities of the Taliban, and what the Chinese and Russians are up to.
Yaroslav Trofimov is the chief foreign-affairs correspondent of The Wall Street Journal. He joined the Journal in 1999 and previously served as Rome, Middle East and Singapore-based Asia correspondent, as bureau chief in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and as Dubai-based columnist on the greater Middle East. He is the author of two books, “Faith at War” (2005) and “Siege of Mecca” (2007).
https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/WTH-Final-Transcript-Trofimov-9.22.21.pdf (Download the transcript here. )
WTH is going on with the hostages in Afghanistan? Elliot Ackerman on those left behind and the Americans working to get them out
While an estimated 120,000 Americans, NATO allied citizens, and Afghan allies were evacuated from Afghanistan during the US military withdrawal, many Afghans who worked directly with the US were left behind as the last American planes departed Kabul on August 31. According to a State Department official, a majority of special immigrant visa applicants were not evacuated and still remain in Afghanistan, putting them at additional risk for Taliban retribution. In the absence of the US government, ad hoc groups of veterans, journalists and activists have taken it upon themselves to help rescue both US citizens and our Afghan partners from Afghanistan.
Elliot Ackerman joined Marc and Dany to discuss Biden’s botched withdrawal, American private citizens working to evacuate the Taliban’s hostages still trapped in Afghanistan, and how we can all do our part to help our Afghan partners.
Elliot Ackerman is the author of four novels. He is both a former White House Fellow and Marine, and served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Ackerman-transcript.pdf (Download the transcript here. )
WTH is going on 20 years after 9/11? An Afghanistan war veteran who lost his dad in the Twin Towers remembers
It has been 20 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people and shook America to its core. While much has changed in the two decades since that tragic day, Americans have not forgotten those who perished, as well as the survivors, victims’ families, and the first responders whose lives were irreversibly changed in an instant.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Marc and Dany spoke with Patrick Dowdell about his father, an FDNY first responder who died in the Twin Towers, and reflected on his dad’s life and legacy.
Patrick Dowdell is the son of New York City firefighter Lt. Kevin Dowdell, who died on 9/11. Following his graduation from the United States Military Academy West Point, Dowdell became a US Army captain, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Final.Dowdell.Transcript.9.8.21.pdf (Download the transcript here. )
WTH is going on with the retreat from Afghanistan? Amb. Ryan Crocker on America’s betrayal, Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal, and the consequences for US national security
On Tuesday, the United States ended its evacuation mission in Kabul, marking the conclusion of two decades of the American military mission in Afghanistan. Since mass evacuations began on August 14, both Americans and NATO allies have criticized President Biden for what they view as a catastrophic execution of an already flawed decision to withdraw. Following last Thursday’s suicide bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport that resulted in the death of 13 US service members and more than 200 Afghan civilians, it is has become ever more clear that Biden’s withdrawal was little short of a disaster.
Amb. Ryan Crocker joined Marc and Dany to discuss the execution of Biden’s Afghanistan evacuation, America’s betrayal of Afghanistan, and the national security ramifications of the American withdrawal.
Amb. Crocker is an American retired diplomat, a career ambassador within the United States Foreign Service, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was a United States ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon, serving both Republican and Democratic administrations.
https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Crocker-Final-Transcript-9.1.21.pdf (Download the transcript here. )
WTH is going on with the Taliban takeover? Frederick Kagan on the fall of Kabul, the Afghan army’s role, and Biden’s surrender to the Taliban
Almost 20 years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban are back in control of the country. After President Biden’s decision to depart Afghanistan regardless of conditions on the ground, and the withdrawal of U.S. intelligence and air support to the Afghan army, the Taliban rapidly advanced, culminating in the collapse of the Afghan government.
Dr. Frederick W. Kagan joined Marc and Dany to discuss the Taliban takeover, President Biden’s decision, the role of the Afghan army, and the impact on al Qaeda.
Kagan is the director of AEI’s Critical Threats Project and a former professor of military history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He served on the ground in Afghanistan, providing civilian support to the U.S. military mission.
https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/FINAL-Kagan-Transcript-8.18.21-2.pdf (Download the transcript here. )
WTH is going on with breakthrough infections? Dr. Marty Makary explains why renewed panic over COVID-19 is unwarranted
For many vaccinated Americans the pandemic is all but over, but the political struggle over COVID-19 continues. At the same time, the new and highly contagious delta variant has many calling for a return to mask mandates first implemented at the height of the pandemic.