Prompt: Who “Lost” Afghanistan, and What Will be the Consequences?
The recent U.S. pull–out from Afghanistan has raised much soul–searching among the foreign
policy community in the United States. If the American war in Vietnam is any indication, now
will commence a years–long “blame game”: an attempt by foreign policy experts, journalists,
and historians to understand what went wrong in Afghanistan and why, and who (if anyone),
is responsible. In your view, what went wrong in Afghanistan? What will be the consequences
of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan? What lessons can be learned?
For this assignment, I want you to write a 7–10 page paper that articulates a policy response
to one of the writing prompts below. If you want to write about a topic that is not listed, that
is fine, but you must (a) write out a proposed prompt that is relevant to the issues discussed
in class and (b) get it approved by me. As mentioned in the syllabus, your paper must be
double–spaced, and you must use an actual citation style for citing sources. You are
encouraged to use outside sources, but you must also use the relevant assigned readings
from class. You are permitted to use any news source you like for information, but be keep
in mind that you must back up your claims with factual evidence. Fake news is amusing, but
please do not report unsubstantiated claims in your paper! Here are some suggested sources:
News sources and Blogs: The L.A. Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall
Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, Foreign Policy, The Economist, The Guardian, The BBC, War
On the Rocks, The New Yorker, U.S. News and World Report, The Monkey Cage, Just Security,
The Institute for the Study of War, and Lawfare.
Policy and Academic Journals: The American Political Science Review, Washington Quarterly,
International Organization, Ethics and International Affairs, Review of International Studies,
International Studies Review, Journal of Global Security Studies, International Security, Foreign
Affairs, European Journal of International Relations, The American Journal of Political Science,
The Journal of Politics, The National Interest, and International Theory.
There is no required number of sources that you use, but remember that the more you know
about a topic, the better your paper will be. I would suggest finding roughly 5 extra sources.
However, what is important is the quality of your argument and your writing, not how many
sources you use.
Although this is not an English class, make sure to use the proper word choice, punctuation,
and spelling. The more professional your paper looks and reads, the better. Also, since this
is an argumentative essay where you will be defending a specific claim, please make sure to
be clear and direct on where you stand with the argument. Somewhere in your introductory
paragraph, you should clearly state your thesis, and you should clearly outline how you aim
to defend it. Then in the rest of the paper, you should go on to defend your argument. It is OK
for you to use personal pronouns. That is, you can say, “In this paper, I will defend, X, Y, or
Z.” In fact, I strongly encourage this because it will help improve the clarity of your argument.
In addition, your paper should have a clearly discernible introduction, body, and conclusion.
You are not required to use section headings, but this can improve the clarity of your writing.
In the introduction, you need to briefly outline your thesis, in the body of the essay, you need
to defend your argument, and in the conclusion you need to briefly restate your thesis. This
will ensure that your central point sticks with your reader. Finally, you should make sure to
acknowledge potential counterarguments. I would be more than happy to take a look at an
outline as long as you set up an appointment to meet with me to discuss it in person.
Your paper will be graded on the basis of how well it is written and argued. Since everyone
disagrees, you do not need to convince me, personally, that your argument is right. However,
you need to build a convincing case, which means that you need to clearly set forth reasons
for why your view should be accepted, you need to consider possible counterarguments, and
so forth. I will post the general grading rubric that I use on Titanium.