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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

Town Hall’s Civics series highlights everything from local policies to world politics. These events offer perspectives on a range of topics as diverse as Seattle itself—a bustling forum for activism, discovery, and thought-provoking discussion.

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Mar 2, 2018

Prior to 9/11, the United States had been carrying out small-scale covert operations in Afghanistan, in cooperation (and sometimes opposition) with Pakistani intelligence agency I.S.I.. While the U.S. was trying to quell extremists, a highly secretive and compartmentalized wing of the  I.S.I. known as “Directorate S” was covertly training, arming, and seeking to legitimize the Taliban. In his book Directorate S, journalist Steve Coll makes painfully clear that the United States doomed the war in Afghanistan—and set our country on a collision course with Pakistan—with failure to apprehend this faction’s motivations and intentions.

Coll joined us to discuss the history and impact of this swirling and shadowy struggle of historic proportions. He outlined how the conflict endured over a decade across the Bush and Obama administrations, involving multiple secret intelligence agencies, a litany of incongruous strategies and tactics, and dozens of prominent military and political figures. Coll excavated this grand battle, which took place away from the gaze of the American public. He offered us a definitive explanation of how America became ensnared in an elaborate, factional, and seemingly interminable conflict in South Asia. Join Coll for a forensic examination of the personal and political forces that shaped world history.

Steve Coll is the author of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Ghost Wars and the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and previously worked for 20 years at The Washington Post, where he received a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990.

Recorded live at Seattle University by Town Hall Seattle on Thursday, February 15, 2018.