Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

Should the United States Normalize Relations with the Taliban?

| Aug. 21, 2023

Foreign Affairs Asks the Experts


Foreign Affairs has recently published a number of articles on how the United States should engage with the Taliban government in Afghanistanextremist forces within the regimehow the West can help ordinary Afghans, and the fate of the country’s women. To complement these essays, Foreign Affairs asked a broad pool of experts for their take. As with previous surveys, Foreign Affairs approached dozens of authorities with expertise relevant to the question at hand, along with leading generalists in the field. Participants were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a proposition and to rate their confidence level in their opinion.

Two Belfer Center experts participated, International Security Executive Editor Jacqueline L. Hazelton and Future of Diplomacy Project Senior Fellow Paula Dobriansky.

Jacqueline L. Hazelton


Executive Editor of International Security at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center

The only reason for the United States to continue to shun the Taliban government of Afghanistan is self-righteousness. Governments interact with unpleasant counterparts all the time. It is called diplomacy. The United States itself works, has worked, and will work closely with odious regimes. Recognizing the Taliban would remove serious impediments to U.S. help for the people of Afghanistan.

Paula Dobriansky


Senior Fellow of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center

The Taliban carry out acts of terror, have destroyed Afghan society, and continue to brutally suppress the fundamental rights of Afghan women and girls. They have violated all of their promises, so there is no deal to be had with them. Why would the United States normalize relations when there are only costs? It would also send a signal that an unrepentant terrorist government can have relations with the United States.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Hazelton, Jacqueline L. and Paula Dobriansky."Should the United States Normalize Relations with the Taliban?" Foreign Affairs, August 21, 2023.