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James Dobbins, former US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, dies at 81

(Last Updated On: July 7, 2023)

James Dobbins, America’s former special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has died at the age of 81.

The death, of complications from Parkinson’s disease, was announced by the Rand Corp., a think tank where Dobbins had previously led a center on international security and defense policy.

Dobbins served as US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan between May 2013 and July 2014. He also served as envoy to Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia.

In 2001, he led negotiations leading to the Bonn Agreement, and served as acting Ambassador of the United States to Afghanistan during the transitional period.

In Mr. Dobbins’s view, U.S. policymakers made strategic blunders by focusing too many resources on counterinsurgency fights against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Instead, he said a better path was building local alliances and regional security networks to give Afghans a greater sense of safety and a stake in keeping the system in place.

He reflected interventionist instincts that the United States should be involved in “nation building” as “the inescapable responsibility of the world’s only superpower.”

After takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamic Emirate, Dobbins insisted this was the moment for renewed engagement in Afghanistan. Isolation, he said, may seem more appealing to US officials because it requires “no decisions, no resources and no political exposure.”

“But it never works,” Dobbins said. “In the history of foreign affairs, as far I know, it has never produced the desired results.”