Freedom and Democracy Since 9/11: Freedom, Democracy and U.S. Foreign Policy

This is the second event in a two-part series. The first event, "Freedom and Democracy at Home," is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. This event, "Freedom, Democracy and U.S. Foreign Policy," will take place on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.

This event last occurred Sept. 9, 2021

This is an online event via Zoom.

Perhaps no other event in the last 20 years has had more enduring and global repercussions than the attacks of 9/11. In response, the United States restructured the federal government, passed the USA Patriot Act and launched the global war on terror that extended to Afghanistan, Iraq and countless other countries. “Freedom” and “democracy” served as the rallying cries of such efforts, especially in response to terrorists portrayed as enemies who “hate our freedoms.” Twenty years later, America’s—and Americans’—commitments to freedom and democracy, both at home and abroad, warrant renewed reflection and deeper scrutiny. 

On the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and the Center on the Future of War are sponsoring a two-part conversation on the legacy and lessons of 9/11. These panels will give particular attention to how the forces of nationalism, populism, isolationism and nativism have shaped—and are shaping—Americans’ lives and the nation’s engagement in the world. Throughout, religion has occupied a central yet always varied place in the reaction to, and analysis of, these pivotal events and influential forces.

This second panel—Freedom, Democracy and U.S. Foreign Policy—asks panelists to consider how U.S. foreign policy has embraced or forsaken commitments to freedom and democracy so deeply aroused by the September 11 attacks. The recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan is front and center in this conversation. Yet, other US interventions over the last two decades—in Libya, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere—invite reconsideration of whether and how the United States has been a friend of or foil to freedom, self-determination and human rights for other peoples. What is the relation of the global war on terror and related efforts to “counter violent extremism” to rising forms of populism, nationalism and authoritarianism? What do the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq and other wars suggest about the future of freedom, democracy and human rights in the world? Twenty years on from 9/11, what role is religion likely to play in international politics and the struggle for self-determination?

Please join us and our panelists:

Anand Gopal is an award-winning journalist, Type Media Center fellow and assistant research professor at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and Center on the Future of War. His reporting on democratic movements, political violence and the human costs of war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. His book, “No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes,” won the Ridenhour Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer and National Book Award.

Paul Miller is professor of practice at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, with a focus on international affairs, global politics and security. Prior to joining Georgetown, he served as director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the National Security Council staff; worked as an intelligence analyst for the CIA; and served as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army. His books include “American Power and Liberal Order: A Conservative Internationalist Grand Strategy” and “Armed State Building”. His current project seeks to reinterpret just war traditions in light of contemporary security challenges.

Heather Hurlburt is director of the New Models of Policy Change project at New America's Political Reform program. Prior to joining New America, she ran the National Security Network, a premier source for internationalist foreign policy messaging and advocacy, held senior positions in the White House and State Department during the Clinton administration and worked for the International Crisis Group. She is a former contributor to New York Magazine; has published articles in Politico, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Fortune, Vox and Time; and co-hosted the Drezburt podcast for BloggingheadsTV.

Daniel Rothenberg is co-director of the Center on the Future of War and professor of practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies at ASU. An expert on terrorism, violence and human rights, he has overseen rule of law and human rights projects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Africa and Latin America, including programs to train human rights NGOs, aid indigenous peoples, support gender justice and collect first-person narratives from victims of atrocities. His books include Memory of Silence: The Guatemalan Truth Commission Report” and “Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy”.


John Carlson is interim director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and associate professor of religious studies at Arizona State University where he also co-directs the Recovering Truth project. A religious ethicist, he is co-editor of “From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America” and has written extensively on issues of war and peace, religion and violence, justice and human rights and democracy and civic life. 

Statue of Liberty framed by purple sunset


For more information contact:

Carolyn Forbes
Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict