Australian Outlook

Episode 79: Afghanistan

18 Aug 2021
By Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA and Dr Darren Lim
210818-M-JM820-1174 HAMID KARZAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan (August 18, 2021) – Evacuees stage before boarding a C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, Aug. 18. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with an orderly drawdown of designated personnel in Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara)

In this emergency episode of Australia in the World, Allan and Darren try to make sense of the events surrounding the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. They look at the situation analytically but also on a more personal level.

On Sunday the 15th August the Taliban took control of Kabul, capping an astonishingly rapid takeover of Afghanistan. How could this have happened? Was it true that the United States faced a simple choice between getting out or staying forever? What are the implications for Joe Biden’s legacy, and America’s standing in the world? And what is the Australian angle here?

Many thanks to Dominique Yap for audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Paul Miller, “What really went wrong in Afghanistan”, The Dispatch, 29 January 2020:

Craig Whitlock, “At war with the truth” (Afghanistan Papers”), Washington Post, 9 December 2019:

Remarks by President Biden on the Drawdown of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, The White House, 8 July 2021:

Gideon Rachman, “Joe Biden’s credibility has been shredded in Afghanistan”, Financial Times, 13 August 2021:

Daniel Drezner, “Afghanistan’s effect on American foreign policy”, Washington Post, 15 August 2021:

ABC News Sunday (NSW), 15 August 2021:

Scott Morrison, “Interview with Lisa Millar, ABC News Breakfast”, Transcript, 16 August 2021:

Marise Payne, “ABC Radio National – AM with Sabra Lane”, Transcript, 17 August 2021:

List of Afghan charities: (see also this tweet thread from Elsa Kania (@EBKania) )