First Person

Roots of a Quagmire


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Soldiers set up to fire on Taliban positions in Afghanistan on Nov. 8, 2001.
Soldiers set up to fire on Taliban positions in Afghanistan on Nov. 8, 2001. PATRICK ROBERT/Sygma via Getty Images

On the podcast: America’s first post-9/11 envoy to Afghanistan recounts the early months of the war there.

The collapse of peace talks between the United States and the Taliban this month marked yet another setback in efforts to end the war in Afghanistan that has persisted for nearly 18 years.

U.S. President Donald Trump had secretly invited Taliban leaders to Camp David for a peace conference but canceled the event when an attack by the group in Kabul killed 12 people, including a U.S. soldier. He later said negotiations with the Taliban were effectively dead.

This week on First Person, we look back at the early months of America’s involvement in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks in a conversation with former diplomat James Dobbins. President George W. Bush sent Dobbins to Afghanistan as a special envoy in 2001. He returned to the region as special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2013. Dobbins is now a senior fellow at the Rand Corp.

About First Person:  Each week on First Person, we conduct a narrative-driven conversation with one person whose experience illuminates something timely and important about our world. Our guests tend to be people who have participated directly in events, either as protagonists or eyewitnesses. We get them to tell their story, not just offer analysis. First Person is hosted by FP deputy editor Sarah Wildman. Sarah is an award-winning journalist whose stories have appeared in the New York TimesSlate, Vox and the New Yorker online. She is the author of Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind.  See All Episodes


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More First Person episodes:

A Fateful Decision That Led to the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis

The journalist David Kirkpatrick on how President Jimmy Carter was pressured into letting the Shah of Iran into the United States.

The Persian Puzzle—Iran, Iraq, and the United States

What a trove of leaked Iranian cables tells us about Iran’s influence in Iraq.

The Truth About the U.S. War in Afghanistan

Former Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani on how the Taliban won.

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