November 16, 2021

A Veteran Diplomat, a ‘Tragic Figure,’ Battles Critics in the U.S. and Afghanistan

Featuring Lisa Curtis

Source: New York Times

Journalist Michael Crowley

The failure to rescue Afghanistan from the Taliban weighs on many American generals and diplomats. But few had as personal a stake as Zalmay Khalilzad.

Raised in Kabul and naturalized as a U.S. citizen, Mr. Khalilzad worked on Afghanistan policy under four American presidents before stepping down last month.

The battle for Afghanistan is lost, for now. But Mr. Khalilzad has embarked on a new fight: to defend his reputation against accusations that he bears special blame for the chaotic fall of Kabul, the Afghan capital, to the Taliban in August.


“I believe Ambassador Khalilzad was too willing to make concessions to the Taliban and to throw the Afghan government under the bus,” said Lisa Curtis, who worked closely with Mr. Khalilzad in the Trump administration as the National Security Council’s senior director for South and Central Asia. “It was clear to many people that the Taliban was not interested in a peace process, but only in pursuing a military path to power.”

Read the full story and more from The New York Times.


  • Lisa Curtis

    Senior Fellow and Director, Indo-Pacific Security Program

    Lisa Curtis is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at CNAS. She is a foreign policy and national security expert with over 20 years of service in...