Is Taliban 2.0 Closing the Gates to Ijtihad Again?

After almost two years since the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan, the international community is coming to terms with the nature of the new regime in Kabul. This Article explores the nature of Taliban 2.0, assessing evidence of both change and disturbing continuity in the new leadership of Afghanistan. Importantly, Taliban 2.0 has demonstrated persistent inflexibility in its imposition of a puritanical form of Islamic rule, exemplified by its treatment of the rights of women and girls. This inflexibility is in direct conflict with its goal of becoming a formally recognized member of the international community. Its lack of international recognition hampers the Taliban's ability to stabilize the Afghan economy and provide even minimal levels of public goods to its people. Yet, in light of this growing humanitarian crisis, the United States and its allies face a delicate balancing act: decreasing the suffering of the Afghan people while maintaining pressure on the Taliban regime. This Article argues that the United States should consider using a mix of carrots and sticks to achieve this delicate balance and test the ultimate flexibility, cohesion, and staying power of Taliban 2.0.