The U.S. military Withdraws from Afghanistan

Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad speaks with PBS NewsHour Extra.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad speaks with PBS NewsHour Extra.

The U.S. Withdrawls from Afghanistan

The U.S. will soon complete the troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. Nick Schifrin talks to the lead U.S. diplomat for the region, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Born in Afghanistan, he worked in various capacities with Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump. He is currently the special representative for Afghan reconciliation under President Joe Biden. Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions below. In addition, read this article. Please note this video has been edited to be shorter for this Daily News Lesson. To view the full video and transcript, click here

Background: Following the attack by the Islamist terrorist organization Al Qaeda on the United States on September 11th, 2001, bipartisan support in Congress led to authorization of invasion of Afghanistan to target the Taliban, “a regional Islamic political and military force” (CNN) that hosted Osama Bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda. Bin Laden fled to Pakistan but the U.S. military remained in Afghanistan through shifting goals of a decades-long “war on terror” and worries of chaos and the return of the Taliban if U.S. military presence ended.

For a more in-depth summary and background, see this article.



Discussion Questions 

  • What are the reasons that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan 20 years ago? 
  • Who is fighting in the war?
  • Why is the U.S. now withdrawing troops after 20 years?
  • When does President Biden want to have nearly all troops removed from Afghanistan? What is the significance of this date?
  • How does this change leave the Afghan government? 

Focus Questions

  • Based on what Zalmay Khalilzad says here about the status and recent history of negotiations with the Taliban, what are some arguments for why the U.S. should pull out? What are the arguments for why they shouldn’t?
  • How do you think the U.S. should approach its future relationship with Afghanistan, and why?

Media Literacy: This activity contains both an article and a video expressing information about the same topic. Which did you find more engaging? Which was more accessible? Why did you think one was more accessible than another? What media tools did it utilize?

Dig Deeper

  • For an in-depth timeline of the war in Afghanistan, see this link
  • For more on the current status of the war, see this PBS NewsHour piece



Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.