THE CHAOTIC scenes at Kabul airport last month were a tragic epilogue to the twenty-year war in Afghanistan led by America with a wide coalition of allies. Few had predicted the speed of the Taliban’s advance, or that the country’s urban centres would fall with little resistance.

While Afghans face the reality of Taliban rule, the nature of America’s withdrawal has cast a shadow over President Joe Biden’s presidency. We ask the head of the British Armed Forces, General Sir Nick Carter, if the Taliban he fought can change – and should the West now engage with its leaders?

The man who commanded 55,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan and spent nearly three years in the country during the fighting says the Taliban “won’t want to allow their country to become the sort of place that we would want to attack again.” Despite the ease of its takeover, he adds, the Taliban will struggle to unite a country facing a humanitarian crisis and potential economic collapse.

And as the pitfalls of intervention weigh heavily on the Western alliance, he also tells host Anne McElvoy that Western powers are likely to think twice when it comes to “boots on the ground” interventions in the future and trust more in local powerbrokers.

As General Carter’s tenure ends and a succession race gets underway, we ask him what the future of the West’s defence will look like. And, what is he most – and least – proud of? Runtime: 32 min

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