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Professor Melissa Will Draws on CIA Background to Discuss Afghanistan

Clinical Assistant Professor Melissa Will spoke to a crowd of over 80 Purdue community members on October 27, 2021, about the situation in Afghanistan. Will teaches in the Department of Political Science and previously worked for 10 years as an analyst with the CIA, focusing on Afghanistan. Cataloging the complexity of Afghan society and history—including its myriad rival ethnic groups and militant organizations—Will painted a sobering picture of the current state of Afghanistan, both before and after the recent US withdrawal.

She highlighted the original decision to lock out the Taliban from post-invasion Afghan politics as a potential poison pill responsible for the current ascendency of the extremist organization. The situation is especially dire, she pointed out, for women, girls, and those who cooperated with and aided US efforts in the country. Ultimately, Will argued, while the Taliban has proved its persistence on the battlefield, it remains to be seen if it can muster the resources and know-how needed to govern