The Afghanistan War

July 18, 2019, 12:00 - 1:30 pm

Collective Memory in Germany and the United States

The war in Afghanistan has been going for 18 years—with no end in sight. The terrorists have not been defeated, and Western military presence, humanitarian assistance, and political support has not stabilized the country to such an extent that Afghan government, military forces, and police can handle the security responsibilities completely on their own.

On September 11, 2001, America was attacked by al-Qaeda, a terrorist network that was harbored and protected by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In reaction to the attacks, U.S. president George W. Bush declared the Global War on Terror and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder reassured the United States of the “unconditional solidarity” of his government and the German people. Only one day after the 9/11 attacks, NATO’s Article 5 was invoked for the first time in its history, paving the way to a multinational military intervention in Afghanistan.

Today, after 18 years of military, political, and humanitarian engagement in the Hindu Kush, it remains unclear how the Afghanistan War will be remembered in the United States and Germany. Which diplomatic and strategic lessons will be learned? How will “Afghanistan” remain in the collective memory of the civil society and the broader public? As a legitimate response to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban or as a naive endeavor of “state-building” in a war-torn country? Where are similarities and differences in the memory narratives?

Dr. Heck’s seminar will address how political, military, and societal actors remember the Afghanistan War, what lessons they have learned, and how they think the war will remain in the collective memory. During his stay in the U.S., Dr. Heck has conducted interviews with decision-makers, advisors, and high-ranked military personnel (including Ambassador Douglas Lute and General David H. Petraeus) as well as former combat soldiers.

Join AGI/DAAD Research Fellow Axel Heck as he presents his research on remembering the war in Afghanistan in the U.S. and Germany.

Dr. Axel Heck is a senior lecturer in International Relations at Kiel University in Germany. Prior to his appointment in Kiel he was post-doctoral researcher at the University of Freiburg, research associate at the University of Mainz, and lecturer at the University of Frankfurt. He received a graduate fellowship from the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation for his Ph.D. and he was a visiting fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) in Washington, DC. Dr. Heck has published a book on power in transatlantic relations and several articles on representations of war in media, culture, and society.



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