Posted by: Christian | November 2, 2009

Shahrani on Bush/Obama and Afghanistan

“They looked for clients, not partners.”

Indiana University professor Nazif Shahrani visited the Australian National University about 10 days ago (while I was in Tajikistan) and gave a lecture on Obama’s Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy. Here’s the info and a link to the MP3 of the lecture:

Professor M. Nazif Shahrani, “President Obama’s ‘New’ Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategy: Why it is Unlikely to Work.”
Lecture at Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies (The Middle East & Central Asia) at the Australian National University. Link to MP3 of lecture (approx. 1 hour).

The Australian National University (my current home) and Indiana University (my old home) have created a partnership, the Pan-Asian Institute (no website yet). But you can find some info here and here. So in addition to language and study exchanges, there should be more of this sort of thing going on at these two universities.

If you have limited time and don’t have an hour to listen to the lecture, you can jump in just before the halfway point when professor Shahrani starts to talk about Bonn. The lecture before this is more for a general audience. And it is essentially a critique that most readers would be very familiar with, whether they like it or not (something close to a Noam Chomsky lecture, but from someone who is actually very knowledgeable about Afghanistan). After this point there is a discussion of policy, counter insurgency, centralized governance, community defense, the “tribalized” international community, Pakistan, Obama, etc.. If you think it is a standard antiwar lecture, it is most definitely not.

As for previous lectures, there is audio for David Kilcullen’s lecture, but unfortunately not for Barnett Rubin’s. There is however, a summary of his lecture in our bulletin (PDF).


  1. Christian, thanks for providing Sharani’s lecture, besides Rubin one of the few pundits I have heard so far who advocate a (in my eyes) reasonable approach within the limits of realism and more based on listening than on talking. I would appreciate if you could post the link to Rubin’s lecture as soon as it becomes available online.

  2. […] Bleuer on Ghosts of Alexander has provided some excellent material on AfPak – a lecture at ANU by Nazif Shahrani, which can […]

  3. Unfortunately there is no audio of the Rubin lecture. But you should be able to find the bulk of it in his (and Ahmed Rashid’s) Foreign Affairs article on a “Grand Bargain.”

  4. […] South-Central Asia strategy 22 November 09 ocmpoma Leave a comment Go to comments President Obama’s new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy: Why it is unlikely to work Australian National University Categories: Shahrani Nazif Tags: Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, […]


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