Anna Geis Appointed to Enquete Commission on German Engagement in Afghanistan

Prof Dr. Anna Geis, alumna fellow of the Centre and professor of political science at Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, has recently been appointed to a Enquete Commission titled ‘Lessons from Afghanistan for Germany's Future Networked Engagement’. The commission was first announced in July of this year and convened on 19 September at the Bundestag in Berlin.

The inauguration of the Enquete Commission took place before President of the Bundestag Bärbel Bas, with Michael Müller of the SPD and Serap Güler of the CDU/CSU being elected Chairman and Deputy Chair, respectively. Geis, whose research at the Centre is closely related to the topic, will be contributing to the commission as part of a group of twelve expert advisors who, along with twelve members of parliament, will comprise the committee. 

Key to the commission’s comprehensive mandate is a thorough and nuanced evaluation of Germany’s military and civilian engagement in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2021, from which lessons for future foreign and security policy are to be derived. The mandate document (only available in German) contains a seemingly exhaustive list of how the various inquiries should progress, and what should be looked at, considered, scrutinized, and even questioned.

Amongst the core concerns of the mandate is the idea of the ‘networked approach’, hinted at in the Commission’s title. A press release from the German Bundestag describes this approach as ‘the interlinking of military, police, diplomatic, development policy and humanitarian instruments in operations within the framework of international peace missions’. It is then emphasized that the question of ‘whether this approach was the right one and what the interplay of military and civilian measures in international crisis management would have to look like in order to be successful’ is what the Enquete Commission will be working to deliver to the Bundestag over the course of their inquiry.

Transparency is also an important constituting factor in the Commission’s mandate. Public interest in how Germany’s resources were deployed during the stabilization mission in Afghanistan is a key point to be addressed; despite massive investments, and even some early military success, the end result was obviously not a lasting peace in the country.

At the conclusion of an intensive phase of analysis and evaluation (lasting at least until the end of the current legislative period), the commission is to present its findings to the Bundestag. Recommendations for future missions, developed from the analysis, are intended to better guide the country’s decision making in terms of humanitarian aid, diplomacy, and deployment of both military and civilian resources in future zones of conflict. The Centre would like to congratulate Anna on this consequential appointment, and we look forward to learn more about the committee's findings as the inquiry progresses.

Prof. Dr. Anna Geis

Alumni Senior Fellow

Anna Geis has been a Professor of Political Science at the Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg since 2016, lecturing predominantly in the area of International Security and Conflict Studies. Anna joined the Centre as a Senior Research Fellow from October 2021 - September 2022 and was a member of the research group 'Legitimation and Delegitimation in Global Cooperation'.

Project at the Centre

20 Years of the US 'War on Terror' in Afghanistan. A Critical Review of Interventionist Practices and their Justification

In summer 2021, the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan, the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, horrifying images from Kabul airport, and the enduring humanitarian plight have brought central questions concerning Western military interventions back to the political agenda again. No less than 20 years of military and civilian engagement in Afghanistan require a self-critical review and evaluation of the engagement.

Afghanistan has been one of the most enduring intervention theatres for Western troops since the military intervention started as major part of the US-led “global war on terror” in 2001. Analysing interventionist practices of Western states, including their justifications, is key to understanding liberal ordering practices The West and the “International Community” have dedicated considerable material and immaterial resources to Afghanistan, exerted “hard” and “soft” power: troops, civilian staff, time, money, diplomatic efforts, trust and reputation. In light of the current situation, many critics evaluate this engagement today as disaster or failure.

Taking the escalation in 2021 into consideration (which can lead to retrospective new evaluations of prior processes), this project seeks to analyse three variations of US political actors’ “politics of legitimacy” regarding the military engagement  and the diplomatic attempts to promote a sustainable peace:

(a) the US peace negotiations with the Taliban (2018-2020), from which the elected Afghan government was excluded (de facto recognition of an armed non-state actor as legitimate);

(b) the US administration’s renewed resistance against the International Criminal Court (ICC) under President Trump in reaction to the ICC’s investigations of war crimes in Afghanistan (enhanced expressions of non-recognition of a central institution of the liberal world order);

(c) critical reviews of the Afghanistan engagement/ ”lessons learned” in the US/ NATO (accountability vis-à-vis domestic audiences and NATO partners).


Read the press release from the German Bundestag. (German)

Full text of the Enquete Commission's mandate. (German)

More photos from the inauguration.