August 8, 2023 • Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
It was December 2001.
The U.S.-led coalition had taken control of Afghanistan and installed a government of warlords. It was led by Hamid Karzai, the only man among the Afghan allies without a private militia.
Karzai’s swearing-in ceremony had taken place, and he was ensconced in the presidential palace when a news conference was called.
Hundreds of reporters, who had swarmed into the Afghan capital after the collapse of the Taliban, attended the presser to find a member of the ousted, extraordinarily secretive movement on the stage before them, ready to answer their questions.…
It’s striking how much Afghanistan, which has the unfortunate legacy of being the site of America’s longest war, has all but disappeared from public discussion in the United States. But perhaps it’s understandable. After all, there always seems to be another conflict, another war — which, as it happens, is also Afghanistan’s history.
Since 1979, Afghans have lived in almost perpetual conflict. Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes or their country. Foreign interventions have come and gone, ending in failure, leaving Afghans and their neighbors to live with the consequences.…READ MORE
At the start of a panel I moderated at the UNHCR Global Refugee Forum in Geneva in December 2023:
“I would ask our panel and our audience to keep an open mind, understanding that Afghanistan has been at war for more than 40 years, and perhaps reflect on the possibility that past policies and initiatives have failed to both bring lasting peace to Afghanistan, to the region and have failed to afford Afghans the opportunity to craft their own solutions toward lasting peace.
Perhaps the time has come to see what can be done differently, whether policy makers and governments can find a way to see Afghanistan’s 40 million people not as a problem to solve, but as the solution.”
In addition to her coverage of South Central Asia, she has covered the Middle East, including the 2006 Israeli war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and war in northern Iraq.
In April 2014 Gannon was seriously wounded—hit by seven bullets—while covering preparations for Afghan national elections when an Afghan police officer opened fire on the car in which she was riding. Her colleague and close friend, AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, was killed in the attack.