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About the Topic: America’s longest war draws to an end this year with the conclusion of combat operations in Afghanistan. The still undecided Afghan presidential election potentially marks the first successful democratic transition in that country’s history and the process thus far has been positive. However, the political, security, and economic problems that Afghanistan’s next leader will face are daunting. The level of American support for Afghanistan’s future development hinges on the signing of a Bilateral Security Agreement that permits the U.S. to continue pursuing intelligence and military operations against Al Qaeda and international terrorist organizations in Central and South Asia. Karl Eikenberry, who served both as the U.S. ambassador and the commander of U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, will reflect on the American experience in Afghanistan and discuss the difficult challenges still ahead.
About the Speaker: Karl Eikenberry is the William J. Perry Fellow in International Security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and is a Distinguished Fellow with the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from May 2009 until July 2011 and had a 35-year career in the United States Army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant general. His military assignments included postings with mechanized, light, airborne, and ranger infantry units in the continental United States, Hawaii, Korea, Italy, and Afghanistan as the Commander of the American-led Coalition forces from 2005–2007. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, has earned master’s degrees from Harvard University in East Asian Studies and Stanford University in Political Science, was awarded an Interpreter’s Certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the British Foreign Commonwealth Office, and earned an advanced degree in Chinese History from Nanjing University. He is also the recipient of the George F. Kennan Award for Distinguished Public Service and Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal. Ambassador Eikenberry serves as a Trustee for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Asia Foundation, and the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.