Fri May 22 2015 16:28:27 +0200 CEST

Afghanistan - United States Policy Toward Afghanistan & Pakistan: a Dossier

What is a Dossier?

Via the dossiers, we try to highlight the priorities of the US Government with regard to specific foreign policy policy issues. We provide statements by U.S. public officials, but also reports, hearings, and journal articles.
Afghan and International Soldiers Stand at Attention During a Ceremony in Kabul

President Obama: "By the end of next year, America’s war in Afghanistan will be over." Watch the Weekly Address:

The United States will be a long-term partner for “a strong and sovereign Afghanistan,” Obama said at a press conference with Karzai following their summit at the White House. “And by the end of next year — 2014 — the transition will be complete. Afghans will have full responsibility for their country, and this war will come to a responsible end.”

Obama and Karzai said they eliminated obstacles that were blocking negotiations for a bilateral security agreement to allow the United States to keep a residual force in Afghanistan after 2014. Obama insisted that an agreement contain legal immunity for U.S. forces from Afghan law. Karzai said he will “go to the Afghan people and argue for immunity for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in a way that Afghan sovereignty will not be compromised.”

Obama and Karzai said security gains must be matched by political progress, and they committed to supporting a reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. They were in agreement on the Taliban opening an office in Qatar where direct talks would take place between the Afghan government and the Taliban with support from regional countries, including Pakistan.

Obama said the Taliban must end violence, break ties with al-Qaida and accept Afghanistan’s Constitution. Joint Statement by Presidents Obama, Karzai

January 11, 2013

US Government Information: 

July 8, 2013 Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance Source: CRS Report for Congress.

June 25, 2013 Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy Source: CRS Report for Congress.

July 30, 2013 SIGAR Quarterly Report to Congress. Source Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction SIGAR

July 2013  Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan  Source Department of Defense

-07/27/12   Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2012  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-07/25/12   Major U.S. Arms Sales and Grants to Pakistan Since 2001  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-06/26/12   Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-06/15/12   In Brief: Next Steps in the War in Afghanistan? Issues for Congress  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-06/01/12   Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Aid Conditions, Restrictions, and Reporting Requirements  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-05/24/12   Pakistan - U.S. Relations  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-04/10/12   Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-04/04/12   Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy   Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-02/29/12   Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2013  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-01/06/12   "Surge Recovery" and Next Steps in the War in Afghanistan: In Brief  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense. Source: U.S. Defense Department, January 2012.


The Status Report: Afghanistan and Pakistan Civilian Engagement Source: Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan November 2011.

Afghanistan and Pakistan: Transition and the Way Forward

Full Committee


Source: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Oct. 27, 2011.

The Future of National Defense and the U.S. Military Ten Years After 9/11: Perspectives of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey Source: U.S. House Armed Forces Committee, Oct. 13, 2011.

To receive testimony on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq.  U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Sep. 22, 2011.

AFGHANISTAN: RIGHT SIZING THE DEVELOPMENT FOOTPRINT. Source: U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, September 08, 2011.

Transforming Wartime Contracting: Controlling costs, Transforming Wartime Contracting
Controlling costs, Reducing risks.
 Source: Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, August 2011. 

The Way Ahead in Afghanistan. Source: U.S. House Armed Forces Committee, July 27, 2011.  Hearing video

Evaluating Goals and Progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan Source: U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 23, 2011.

Recent Developments in Afghanistan and the Proposed Drawdown of U.S. Forces Source: U.S. House Armed Forces Committee, June 22, 2011.  Hearing video

-06/03/11   Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy  Source: CRS Report for Congress

-05/16/11   Pakistan - U.S. Relations: A Summary  Source: CRS Report for Congress

The Honorable Ryan C. Crocker, of Washington, to be Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan  Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee. Download Testimony 

Evaluating U.S. Foreign Assistance to Afghanistan (S. Prt. 112-21) (Committee Print (D) Majority) »  Source: Majority Staff Report for the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, June 8, 2011.

Sustainability: hidden costs risk new waste. Source: Commission on Wartime Contracting, June 3, 2011.

Denying Safe Havens: Homeland Security’s Efforts to Counter Threats from Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Source: U.S. House, Homeland Security Committee, Jun 3, 2011

Al Qaeda, the Taliban & Other Extremist Groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan Source: U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, May 24, 2011.

Steps Needed for a Successful 2014 Transition in Afghanistan Source: U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, May 10, 2011. 

May 3, 2011  Women in Afghanistan Source: Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, U.S. House.

-05/06/11   Direct Overt U.S. Aid and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2001-FY2012  Source: CRS Report for Congress

Assessing U.S. Policy and Its Limits in Pakistan Source: U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, May 5, 2011

-05/05/11   Osama bin Laden's Death: Implications and Considerations  Source: CRS Report for Congress

Afghanistan: What is an Acceptable End-State, and How Do We Get There? Source: U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, May 3, 2011.

Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan and the United States Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan National Security Forces. Source: U.S. Department of Defense, April 2011

Hearing To receive testimony on the situation in Afghanistan. Source: U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, March 15, 2011. Honorable Michèle A. Flournoy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy General David H. Petraeus, USA Commander, International Security Assistance Force and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan

-02/03/11   Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians  Source: CRS Report for Congress 

GAO Report to Congres: Afghanistan Security: Afghan Army Growing but Additional Trainers Needed; Long-term Costs Not Determined. GAO-11-66, January 27.

January 2011 Quarterly Report to Congress. Source: SIGAR, Jan. 28, 2011

-01/13/11   Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues  Source: CRS Report for Congress

Non-US Government Information: 

‘Green on Blue’: Insider Attacks in Afghanistan. Austin Long, Survival, June/July 2013, pp. 167-182. "While most counter-insurgency campaigns include a characteristic pattern of violence by members of security forces against both their fellows and their allies, the Afghan case appears to be unique." READ MORE

Reversal of Fortune? Strategy Change and Counterinsurgency Success by Foreign Powers in the Twentieth Century. Andrew J. Enterline, Emily Stull, Joseph Magagnoli, International Studies Perspectives, May 2013, pp. 176–198. "Will a strategy change toward one of “hearts and minds” alter the eventual outcome of the American-led allied war effort in Afghanistan? We investigate this question by analyzing 66 cases of counterinsurgency warfare from the twentieth century in which a foreign power seeks to defend a central authority in a state or colonial territory against an insurgency. We identify whether and when a foreign power implemented a change in its counterinsurgency strategy, whether said change involved a shift toward a strategy reflecting a hearts and minds emphasis, as well as the foreign power's eventual success or failure in prevailing over insurgents. We find that while shifting toward a strategy of hearts and minds increases the chances for success, the improvement is modest and requires nearly a decade to produce. Furthermore, we find that the impact of a strategy change is conditional on the timing of the change, with a “window of opportunity” associated with success closing after approximately eight years of war. Our findings bode poorly for allied efforts in contemporary Afghanistan." READ MORE

Forced to Be Free?: Why Foreign-Imposed Regime Change Rarely Leads to Democratization. Alexander B. Downes and Jonathan Monten, International Security, Spring 2013, pp. 90-131. "Is military intervention effective in spreading democracy? Existing studies disagree. Optimists point to successful cases, such as the transformation of West Germany and Japan into consolidated democracies after World War II. Pessimists view these successes as outliers from a broader pattern of failure typified by cases such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Those in between agree that, in general, democratic military intervention has little liberalizing effect in target states, but contend that democracies can induce democratization when they explicitly pursue this objective and invest substantial effort and resources. Existing studies, however, often employ overly broad definitions of intervention, fail to grapple with possible selection effects in countries where democracies choose to intervene, and stress interveners' actions while neglecting conditions in targets. Astatistical examination of seventy instances of foreign-imposed regime change (FIRC) in the twentieth century shows that implementing prodemocratic institutional reforms, such as sponsoring elections, is not enough to induce democratization; interveners will meet with little success unless conditions in the target state—in the form of high levels of economic development and societal homogeneity, and previous experience with representative governance—are favorable to democracy. Given that prospective regime change operations are likely to target regimes in poor, diverse countries, policymakers should scale back their expectations that democracy will flourish after FIRC." READ MORE

In Pakistan, a New Focus for Counterterrorism. Shamila Chaudhary, Current History, April 2013, var. pages. "A spike in Sunni-Shiite violence, increasing collaboration between sectarian and insurgent groups, and US forces’ drawdown in neighboring Afghanistan warrant a fresh review of counterterrorism strategy in Pakistan. READ MORE

The Inside Story of How the White House Let Diplomacy Fail in Afghanistan. Vali Nasr, Foreign Policy, March/April 2013, var. pages. "Obama earned plaudits for his foreign-policy performance. On his watch, the United States has wound down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it finally killed Osama bin Laden. In tune with the public mood, he has largely kept America out of costly overseas adventures. But my time in the Obama administration turned out to be a deeply disillusioning experience. The truth is that his administration made it extremely difficult for its own foreign-policy experts to be heard. Both Clinton and Holbrooke, two incredibly dedicated and talented people, had to fight to have their voices count on major foreign-policy initiatives.  Holbrooke never succeeded. Clinton did -- but it was often a battle. It usually happened only when it finally became clear to a White House that jealously guarded all foreign policymaking -- and then relied heavily on the military and intelligence agencies to guide its decisions -- that these agencies' solutions were no substitute for the type of patient, credible diplomacy that garners the respect and support of allies. Time and again, when things seemed to be falling apart, the administration finally turned to Clinton because it knew she was the only person who could save the situation." READ MORE

What Vali Nasr Gets Wrong. Sarah Chayes, Foreign Policy, March 12, 2013, var. pages. "Former State Department Advisor Vali Nasr has set Washington abuzz with his gloves-off denunciation of the Obama administration's conduct of foreign policy, in particular the war in Afghanistan. Rarely does a recently former government official let loose with such an unalloyed vilification of the administration he served -- especially when it is still in power. But "The Inside Story of how the White House Let Diplomacy Fail in Afghanistan" is more conventional than it may at first appear. Nasr's is merely the latest salvo in ongoing interagency skirmishing to define the narrative on Afghanistan, to tell a story that lays the blame for the policy's failure at someone else's door. (...) What this account is missing -- what so many such accounts are missing -- is the humility and intellectual honesty to take a candid look inward, to strive for a nuanced assessment of our shared missteps, in what I, like Nasr, believe will be a grim outcome for Afghanistan, and ultimately for international security." READ MORE

The End of the Age of Petraeus. Fred Kaplan, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb. 2013, pp.75-90. "The United States' approach to counterinsurgency, championed by General David Petraeus, helped produce stunning results in parts of Iraq and Afghanistan. In retrospect, however, the fuss over the doctrine seems overblown. It achieved mere tactical successes and only in combination with other, non-military factors." READ MORE

The Future of NATO. Younghoon Moon, Harvard International Review, Winter 2013, pp. 19-21. "The article discusses the purpose of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the post-Cost War era. Critics argue that NATO has not strictly been needed to resolve the conflicts in which it has recently intervened, including the Kosovo war, the Afghan war and the Libyan conflict. It notes that NATO's recent mission in Libya, called Operation Unified Protector, has exposed the alliance's internal division and over-reliance on the U.S. The war in Afghanistan also revealed a number of flaws in NATO, including the inequitable distribution of financial burden between the U.S. and Europe." READ MORE


Enlisting Islam for an Effective Afghan Police. Austin Long and Andrew Radin, Survival, April/May 2012, pp. 113-128. “Establishing an effective police force has eluded both the Afghan government and ISAF. Increasing the prominence of Islamic policing will complement current efforts to defeat the insurgency.” READ MORE

Pakistan’s Most Dangerous Place. Zahid Hussain, Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2012, var. pages. "As the United States struggles to broker an endgame to the decade-old war in Afghanistan, an arid mountain region in northwestern Pakistan not much larger than Vermont has emerged as the key to the beleaguered Afghan state’s future—and perhaps Pakistan’s as well. Often described as the most dangerous place on earth, Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region serves as a haven for Al Qaeda operatives, Pakistani militants, and jihadists from across the Islamic world, as well as Muslim radicals from the United States and Europe who come for ideological instruction and to plot terrorist attacks in their home countries." READ MORE

Talking Tough to Pakistan. Stephen D. Krasner, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2012, var. pages. "The United States gives Pakistan billions of dollars in aid each year. Pakistan returns the favor by harboring terrorists, spreading anti-Americanism, and selling nuclear technology abroad. The bribes and the begging aren't working: only threats and the determination to act on them will do the job. Washington must tell Islamabad to start cooperating or lose its aid and face outright isolation." READ MORE

India's ‘Af-Pak’ Conundrum: South Asia In Flux. Harsh V. Pant, Orbis, Winer 2012, pp. 105–117. “The risks to global security from a failure in Afghanistan are great. Abandoning the goal of establishing both a functioning Afghan state and a moderate Pakistan places greater pressure on Indian security. Pakistani intelligence would be emboldened to escalate terrorist attacks against India once it is satisfied that the Taliban would provide it strategic depth in Afghanistan. This would surely force retaliation from India.” READ MORE

Emerging Central Asia Can democracy take root in the “Stans”? Brian Beary, CQ Global Researcher, January 17, 2012, var. pages. “Since emerging from the Soviet Union's orbit 20 years ago, the five nations of Central Asia — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — increasingly are popping up on geo-political radar screens. Given the proximity of the “Stans” to Afghanistan, where NATO continues to wage war on Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Western powers are ardently wooing Central Asia's leaders in an effort to maintain military bases in the region. There are also rich resources at stake. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan's abundant oil and gas reserves have made them magnets for foreign investors, especially from energy-hungry China, as well as from Europe and the United States. Central Asia also faces a daunting array of domestic challenges, from bloody ethnic clashes and Islamist terrorist attacks to criminal gangs that traffic in drugs and human beings. Meanwhile, some experts wonder if Central Asia, with its repressive, dictatorial leaders and weak but deeply corrupted governments, will soon see its own version of an “Arab Spring” — a popular uprising that will sweep away its aging regimes." READ MORE

Military Suicides: Is the military doing enough to help soldiers cope? Peter Katel, The CQ Researcher, September 23, 2011, pp. 781-804. "Nearly a decade after the United States went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the suicide rate among soldiers and veterans — though lower than the civilian rate — is rising sharply, leading to criticism that military leaders aren't doing enough to help service members. President Barack Obama acknowledged the severity of the problem this year when he began sending condolence letters to families of service members who commit suicide while deployed in combat zones. Scrambling to address the problem — in uncoordinated fashion, researchers say — the military has determined possible causes for the rise in suicides, including multiple deployments that leave soldiers little time at home between combat tours. Yet suicides are also rising among service members who have never deployed. The Veterans Administration (VA) is under pressure from courts and lawmakers to step up mental-health treatment. VA officials say they are doing so, but politicians and veterans’ families remain unimpressed with the efforts." READ MORE


Policing Mars or Venus? Comparing European and US approaches to police assistance. Felix Heiduka, European Security, Volume 20, Issue 3, 2011, pp. 363-383. This article examines European and US approaches to police assistance in Afghanistan through the lens of strategic culture analysis. It is widely assumed that the Europeans are engaged in establishing a democratic, civilian police force in Afghanistan, while the US aim to transform the Afghan National Police (ANP) into a militarized auxiliary force of the Afghan army. Drawing on Kagan's famous dichotomy of Mars and Venus, the article first outlines the concept of strategic culture analysis with regard to US and European foreign policy strategies. It then describes the historical experiences of Western powers with police assistance in the so-called Third World in order to explore historical patterns of police assistance that have shaped specific strategic cultures of police assistance. Against this background European and US approaches to police assistance are contrasted with the practices of reforming the ANP on the ground. The article concludes that, contrary to the ‘Mars-Venus divide’, the US and the EU both pursue police assistance policies on the ground that produces a highly militarized ANP. READ MORE

Our Man in Kandahar. Matthieu Aikins, The Atlantic, November 2011, var. pages. Abdul Raziq and his men have received millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. training and equipment to help in the fight against the Taliban. But is our ally—long alleged to be involved in corruption and drug smuggling—also guilty of mass murder? READ MORE

Should America Liberate Afghanistan's Women? Malou Innocent, Survival, October–November 2011, pp. 31-52. "Many policymakers and political activists believe the United States, with its commitment to individual liberty, political and religious freedom, and the rule of law, has a unique role to play in the advancement of Afghan women’s rights. Though well-meaning, this belief and the prescriptions that follow from it fail to draw a meaningful causal link between desires and outcomes. In fact, the perceived universality of Western values tells us little about the most effective means for advancing them. Current foreign-led efforts to motivate Afghans to adopt new habits also raise a host of practical and ethical considerations, given the unforeseen consequences that arise in the course of military occupation, as well as the situational constraints of operating in the context of a foreign culture." READ MORE

Human rights and building peace: the case of Pakistani madrasas. Mohammed Abu-Nimerab & Ayse Kadayifcicd, The International Journal of Human Rights, May 2011, pp. 1136-1159. "An increasing number of local, national and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) are diligently working for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Muslim societies, and not without success. However, at times, some of these NGOs are perceived to be agents of ‘Western colonisation’ who attempt to undermine traditional structures and customs. Such attitudes are particularly prevalent in many Muslim countries such as Pakistan, which has suffered under colonial regimes for long periods of time. Thus it becomes important to frame human rights and peace-building efforts within the religio-cultural contexts of the community itself and to identify who can be effective agents of peace building and human rights. This article argues that human rights and peace building are inextricably linked and that any peace-building effort must incorporate mechanisms to enhance human rights." READ MORE

Drone Attacks Inside Pakistan- Wayang or Willing Suspension of Disbelief? Shuja Nawaz, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Summer/Fall 2011, 79-87. "The controversial nature of U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan is a symbol of the distrustful relationship between the two countries that has persisted for decades. The author addresses the effects, legality, and implications of these attacks in Pakistan’s FATA region, where a number of terrorist organizations have found refuge." READ MORE

Military Exceptionalism in Pakistan. Anatol Lieven, Survival, August/September 2011, pp. 53-68. "The same features of the Pakistani military that work to save it from disintegration mar its ability to unify the country and transform it into a successful modern state." READ MORE

The Terrorist Threat from Pakistan. Seth G. Jones, Survival, August/September 2011, pp. 69-94. "Despite an air of Western triumphalism over bin Laden’s killing, Pakistan remains a major hub of international terrorism, especially for groups plotting attacks against Western countries." READ MORE

The Missing Endgame for Afghanistan: A Sustainable Post-Bin Laden Strategy David M. Abshire and Ryan Browne, The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 2011, pp. 59-72. "As U.S. and NATO troops draw down in Afghanistan, our current strategy is insufficient. Two helpful models exist for a complementary, long-term regional economic and entrepreneurial development program to help foster sustainable Afghan and regional stability." READ MORE

Conspiracy Fever: the US, Pakistan and its Media. Huma Yusuf, Survival, August/September 2011, pp. 95-118. "Anti-American sentiments and conspiracy theories perpetuated by Pakistan's independent media pose a great challenge to US diplomacy. Here, Yusuf talks about the rise of violent extremism following Pakistan's decision to collaborate with the US after 9/11. The growth of Pakistan's public sphere during a period of deteriorating security has posed new challenges for the US-Pakistan relationship, and enabled public opinion, as reflected in media discourse, to impact foreign policymaking." READ MORE

Afghanistan: Guidelines for a Peace Process. James Dobbins and James Shinn, Survival, August/September 2011, pp. 5–12. "The overarching Western objective in Afghanistan should be to prevent that country from becoming not just a haven for transnational terrorists, but a terrorist ally as well. That was the situation prior to 9/11 and it would be so again if the Taliban returned to power with al-Qaeda backing. NATO can prevent this indefinitely as long as it is willing to commit significant military and economic resources to a counter-insurgency effort. It cannot eliminate the threat, however, as long as the Afghan insurgents enjoy sanctuary in and support from Pakistan. Alternatively, this objective could be achieved if the Taliban could be persuaded to cut its ties to al-Qaeda and end its insurgency in exchange for some role in Afghan governance short of total control." READ MORE

Pakistan’s Nuclear Calculus. Andrew Bast, The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 2011, pp. 73-86. "What is driving Pakistan’s rapid nuclear buildup? To devise any long-term strategy to reverse its momentum, one should understand exactly where Islamabad’s nuclear program is heading, and why it is on a trajectory at odds with nearly every other nuclear-capable country in the world." READ MORE

Guns and Butter: America Desperately Needs Better Civil-Military Coordination.  Patricia DeGennaro, World Policy Journal, Summer 2011, pp. 79-88. "Since the end of the Cold War, the military side of America’s foreign policy system has won more funding and more influence, while the civilian side—the State Department’s diplomats and foreign aid officers—has lost out. One reason for America’s travails in Iraq and Afghanistan is the reality that the military has been asked to fill a vacuum left by the absence of a fully resourced and well-trained corps of diplomats, writes Patricia DeGennaro. “Our government needs to put its money where its ‘smart power’ mouth is and create a comprehensive national-security structure that supports an alignment of interests instead of endless confrontation,” DeGennaro writes. That essential realignment might require nothing short of the creation of a joint civilian-military agency—an authority superior to both the State Department and the Pentagon." READ MORE

Foreign Aid and National Security: Will cuts in assistance undermine U.S. safety? The CQ Researcher, June 17, 2011, pp. 529-552. "The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prompted U.S. leaders to increase U.S. aid in the belief that improved global stability ultimately undergirds U.S. security. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are now among those calling for elevating international development assistance and diplomacy to the same status as defense. But budget debates on Capitol Hill could block aid-reform efforts. The Republican-led House calls for drastically reducing international affairs funding, but the Democratic-led Senate and the Obama administration are resisting. Complicating the arguments are questions about the efficiency of America's aid bureaucracy and, ultimately, the effectiveness of the aid itself. While aid supporters point to improved accountability, it's unclear whether future aid requests can withstand the pressure of budget cutters." READ MORE

Pakistan's Middle Class Extremists: Why Development Aid Won't Solve Radicalism.  Graeme Blair, C. Christine Fair, Neil Malhotra, Jacob N. Shapiro, Foreign Affairs, July 11, 2011, var. pages. "Policymakers have converged on economic development as a key to ending terrorism, in the belief that poorer people are more susceptible to the appeals of violent groups. In fact, in Pakistan, the poor are less supportive of militant groups than the middle class." READ MORE

Afghanistan: America’s War of Perception. Ann Marlowe, Policy Review, June/July 2011, var. pages. "Boots but not facts on the ground. In the days before he was forced into retirement by scandal, General Stanley McChrystal was fond of referring to the Afghan theater he commanded as a 'war of perceptions.' In February he spoke to the Washington Post: 'This is all a war of perceptions,' McChrystal said on the eve of the Marja offensive. 'This is all in the minds of the participants. Part of what we’ve had to do is convince ourselves and our Afghan partners that we can do this.' McChrystal’s phrase — which, we will see, is a superficial interpretation of counterinsurgency theory — aligns regrettably well with the zeitgeist, particularly with what I will call 'perspectival culture.'" READ MORE

Reclaiming Afghanistan. Michael Daxner, World Policy Journal, Summer 2011, var. pages. "The killing of Osama bin Laden served as a jarring reminder of just how far the war in Afghanistan has moved beyond its initial goals, writes Michael Daxner, who has consulted for the U.N. mission in Afghanistan for the past decade. The massive nation-building effort into which the United States and NATO stumbled continues to falter, even as Washington anxiously debates the size and schedule of inevitable force withdrawals. 'Still,' Daxner writes, 'for the first time in at least five years, I have the sense that there is a genuine movement among Afghans toward taking the initiative and reclaiming a role in determining their country’s future.'" READ MORE

Henry Kissinger talks to Simon Schama. Simon Schama, Financial Times Magazine, May 20 2011, var. pages. "To whom should we look for guidance, in the toils of our Afghan perplexities? Well, obviously, the Duke of Wellington. So at any rate Henry Kissinger thinks. Don’t go imagining this has anything to do with the Indian empire, either. Ten minutes into our conversation he remarked that policymakers should be thinking … Belgium. Yes, Belgium. Pausing for a moment between observations delivered with a rumble so basso that it automatically sounds ¬profundo, the Doctor waited to see if the history professor would get it. And suddenly I sort of did. Never mind the weird vision of the Hindu Kush relocated to the Flemish mud, both have been states that have never quite been made; theatres of contending languages and faiths, doormats for unscrupulous neighbours – the Scheldt! the Meuse! Waziristan! 'Throughout the 18th century and earlier,' Kissinger resumes, like a patient tutor, 'armies had marched up and down through Flanders.' As indeed they had, triggering appalling, endless wars. What was Wellington’s answer, at the dawn of Belgian independence in the early 19th century? Internationally agreed neutrality. 'It lasted for 80 years.' We should be so lucky, the Doctor implies, with Afghanistan. READ MORE

Getting the Military Out of Pakistani Politics: How Aiding the Army Undermines Democracy. Aqil Shah. Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011, pp. 69-83. "The US has a major stake in Pakistan's stability, given the country's central role in the US-led effort to, in US President Barack Obama's words, 'disrupt, dismantle, and defeat' al Qaeda; its war-prone rivalry with India over Kashmir; and its nuclear arsenal. As a result, US policy toward Pakistan has been dominated by concerns for its stability -- providing the reasoning for Washington's backing of the Pakistani military's frequent interventions in domestic politics -- at the expense of its democratic institutions. But as the recent eruption of protests in the Middle East against US-backed tyrants has shown, authoritarian stability is not always a winning bet. Despite US efforts to promote it, stability is hardly Pakistan's distinguishing feature. With all the resources in the world, the Pakistani military alone would be insufficient to conquer terrorism. The other critical obstacle to democratization and stability in Pakistan is the country's weak economic performance. Pakistan urgently needs support from the international community to help stabilize its civilian democratic institutions and bolster its economy." READ MORE

The Crossroads. Can We Win in Afghanistan? Peter Bergen, The New Republic, May 2011, var. pages. The article discusses progress in the Afghan war. U.S. President Barack Obama has reversed an earlier policy and committed to keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan until at least 2014. READ MORE

Why the Pakistan army is here to stay: prospects for civilian governance. C. Christine Fair, International Affairs, May 2011, pp. 571–588. "This article explores the prospects for civilian governance over Pakistan's military in the policy-relevant future. After reviewing the Pakistan army's past interference in the country's judicial and political affairs, it turns to the ongoing political maneuvering of the current Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, despite Pakistan's ostensible democratic dispensation. The article dilates on the impact of US engagement on the robustness of the Pakistan army's dominance and questions the newfound US commitment to promoting democratization and civilian control. The article argues that while conventional wisdom places the onus disproportionately upon the military's penchant for interventionism, the army has intervened only with the active assistance of civilian institutions, which are subsequently further eroded with every military takeover. It concludes with a consideration of whether or not genuine civilian control would result in a significant change in Pakistan's foreign and domestic policies, particularly Pakistan's well-known utilization of Islamist militants in India and Afghanistan."  READ MORE

The Double Game, Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, May 16, 2011, var. pages. "It's the end of the Second World War, and the United States is deciding what to do about two immense, poor, densely populated countries in Asia. America chooses one of the countries, becoming its benefactor. Over the decades, it pours billions of dollars into that country's economy, training and equipping its military and its intelligence services. The stated goal is to create a reliable ally with strong institutions and a modern, vigorous democracy. The other country, meanwhile, is spurned because it forges alliances with America's enemies. The country not chosen was India, which “tilted” toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Pakistan became America's protégé, firmly supporting its fight to contain Communism. The benefits that Pakistan accrued from this relationship were quickly apparent: in the nineteen-sixties, its economy was an exemplar. India, by contrast, was a byword for basket case. Fifty years then went by. What was the result of this social experiment?"  READ MORE

Bin Laden's Death and U.S. Afghan Policy. Stephen Biddle, CFR, May 4, 2011, var. pages. "Although the conduct of the war in Afghanistan is unlikely to be affected directly by Osama bin Laden's death, it could affect whether or not the Obama administration thinks the stakes there are worth the investment, says CFR defense expert Stephen Biddle." READ MORE   

Was Bin Laden the Easy Part? Richard A. Falkenrath, Foreign Affairs, May 5, 2011, var. pages. "With bin Laden gone, life is about to become more complicated for U.S. policymakers trying to combat terrorism." READ MORE  

How the U.S. Can Finish Off al-Qaeda. Robert Pape and Jenna Jordan, The Atlantic, May 4 2011, var. pages. "Killing bin Laden will not be enough on its own. But by continuing to embrace the Arab spring and beginning massive withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. can finally defeat his war of terror."  READ MORE

A Truly Regional Economic Strategy for Afghanistan. Andrew C. Kuchins, The Washington Quarterly, Spring 2011, pp. 77-91. "The window of opportunity for getting an economic strategy for Afghanistan together is rapidly closing. Fortunately, an answer is at hand: to draw on the initiative of the Afghan government to develop trade and transit, promoting regional prosperity and interdependencies."  READ MORE

Under the Shrinking U.S. Security Umbrella: India’s End Game in Afghanistan? C. Christine Fair, The Washington Quarterly, Spring 2011, pp. 179 192. "India may soon have a strategic decision to make: will New Delhi increase its influence and activities in Afghanistan, while risking further Pakistani adventurism in India and elsewhere, or will it scale back its objectives in Afghanistan to appease Pakistan?"  READ MORE

Will America Lose Afghanistan—Again? Gary M. Bowman, Current History, April 2011, pp. 150-155.  "Spring has come to Afghanistan and in a few weeks, after the wheat, marijuana, and poppy crops have been planted, and the grape fields and pomegranate orchards have greened to provide concealment for combatants, the traditional Afghan fighting season will begin again. As a July 2011 deadline approaches for starting the withdrawal of US forces introduced as part of a 2009 “surge,” President Barack Obama and his senior civilian advisers should examine carefully the advice they receive from senior military officers about the pace of the drawdown." READ MORE

On the Trail of the ‘Lions of Islam’: Foreign Fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 1980-2010. Brian Glyn Williams, Orbis, Spring 2011, pp. 216-239. "This article provides a review of the history of jihadi foreign fighters in Afghanistan over the last 30 years. It details the post-9/11 period and the invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. forces, focusing on the ethnic origin of the foreign fighters and how different groups engaged in different aspects of the conflict. Additionally, the piece explains that while the foreign fighters who came to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan included, among others, Uzbekistanis (not Afghan Uzbeks), Turks, and Arabs, there was also a significant force of Pakistanis—of both Pashtun and Punjabi origins—that joined, bolstering the Taliban army." READ MORE

Becoming the Enemy. Stanley McChrystal, Foreign Policy, March/April 2011, pp. 66-71. "In bitter, bloody fights in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it became clear to the author and to many others that to defeat a networked enemy they had to become a network themselves. They had to figure out a way to retain their traditional capabilities of professionalism, technology, and, when needed, overwhelming force, while achieving levels of knowledge, speed, precision, and unity of effort that only a network could provide. They needed to orchestrate a nuanced, population-centric campaign that comprised the ability to almost instantaneously swing a devastating hammer blow against an infiltrating insurgent force or wield a deft scalpel to capture or kill an enemy leader. But it took a while to get there. The process started as a linear, relatively inefficient chain. The key was to reduce the blinks, and they did so by attempting to create a shared consciousness between each level of the counterterrorism teams." READ MORE

Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan. G. M. Brower, Science, March 11, 2011, pp. 1256-1260. "As the war in Afghanistan—the longest in U.S. history—grinds toward the decade mark, a special News Focus examines the contentious issue of civilian casualties incurred during battle. A military data set of civilian casualties, provided exclusively to Science, shows that the war has become more lethal to the Afghan population. But while the total number of civilian casualties is increasing, the data indicate that the military has adapted, causing a shrinking share of the death and injuries in spite of last year’s surge in troops and combat operations. Improvised explosive devices continue to be the number one killer in the country. These and other data related to civilian casualties in Afghanistan are now available for researchers. They provide the clearest picture yet of the human cost of the war." READ MORE

Plan B in Afghanistan. Robert D. Blackwill, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2011, var. pages. "There are no easy or cost-free ways to escape the current quagmire in Afghanistan. Although it has problems, a de facto partition of Afghanistan, in which Washington pursues nation building in the north and counterterrorism in the south, offers an acceptable fallback." READ MORE

Finish the Job. Paul D. Miller, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2011, var. pages. "Since 2001, Afghanistan's economy has grown at an impressive rate and major development indicators in the country have improved dramatically. Even security and the rule of law -- long neglected -- are now improving. Washington and its allies could still win in Afghanistan if they are given the time they need." READ MORE

Plan A-Minus for Afghanistan. Michael O'Hanlon and Bruce Riedel, The Washington Quarterly, Winter 2011, pp. 123-132. "The administration’s plan—a counterinsurgency strategy—has a good chance to succeed in Afghanistan. But if it fails, rather than a widely-proposed counterterrorism-plus strategy, a better alternative strategy would focus on a smaller number of key districts while standing up the Afghan army and police." READ MORE

The Rise of Muslim Foreign Fighters: Islam and the Globalization of Jihad. Thomas Hegghammer, International Security, Winter 2010/2011, pp. 53-94. "A salient feature of armed conflict in the Muslim world since 1980 is the involvement of so-called foreign fighters, that is, unpaid combatants with no apparent link to the conflict other than religious affinity with the Muslim side. Since 1980 between 10,000 and 30,000 such fighters have inserted themselves into conflicts from Bosnia in the west to the Philippines in the east. Foreign fighters matter because they can affect the conflicts they join, as they did in post-2003 Iraq by promoting sectarian violence and indiscriminate tactics. Perhaps more important, foreign fighter mobilizations empower transnational terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, because volunteering for war is the principal stepping-stone
for individual involvement in more extreme forms of militancy. For example, when Muslims in the West radicalize, they usually do not plot attacks in their home country right away, but travel to a war zone such as Iraq or Afghanistan first. Indeed, a majority of al-Qaida operatives began their militant careers as war volunteers, and most transnational jihadi groups today are by-products of foreign fighter mobilizations. Foreign fighters are therefore key to understanding transnational Islamist militancy." READ MORE

Afghanistan in 2010: A Survey of the Afghan People, Asia Foundation, November 11, 2010, var. pages. "Published by the Asia Foundation, this survey of roughly 6500 Afghans in all thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan and expert analysis of the results presents a comprehensive overview of national perceptions in a number of key policy areas, including security, economy, governance, democratic values, and women and society." READ MORE

From nation-states in conflict to conflict in nation-states: The United States of America and nation building from South Vietnam to Afghanistan. Mark T. Berger and Justin Y. Reese, International Politics, The Hague, Sep 2010, pp. 451-471. "This article engages with the latest (post-Cold War) debate about the theory and practice of nation building (state building). This is linked to a discussion of the shift in US foreign policy towards Afghanistan relative to Iraq between late 2008 and late 2009. Afghanistan is currently a major focus of nation building efforts and counter-insurgency programs led by the United States of America. Meanwhile, the discussion here ranges from South Vietnam to Colombia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and explores some of the ghosts that now haunt the US presence in Afghanistan 9 years on from the start Operation Enduring Freedom at the end of 2001." READ MORE

Time for a Strategic and Intellectual Pause in Afghanistan. Raymond A. Millen, Parameters, Summer 2010, pp. 33-45. "After eight years of increasing involvement in Afghanistan, the US-led Coalition appears to be at an intellectual crossroads. Despite progress in a number of sectors, the tipping point in favor of an irreversible momentum toward functional governance remains elusive. As frustration mounts, Coalition members have become more vocal about their desire to withdraw by a certain deadline rather than seeing the effort through to completion. Ironically, the growing impatience emanates not from any successes by the Taliban but from political and strategic missteps by Afghanistan’s international partners. This article focuses on three misconceptions that deserve greater scrutiny: associating Hearts-and-Minds with government legitimacy, using correlation of forces as the foundation of strategy, and assuming unity of effort is a natural consequence of multinational endeavors." READ MORE

After the Flood. Hilary Synnott, Survival, October/November 2010, pp. 249–256 "The effects of the flood that surged through Pakistan in August reached almost biblical proportions. Given the current population density of the area, the deaths and devastation may have exceeded those caused by Noah's Middle Eastern flood as described in both the Bible and the Koran. (...) According to tradition, the flood in Noah's time was intended to cleanse the world of unrighteousness. It is timely to consider possible wider political effects of Pakistan's deluge on the country's future. But it is the nature of Pakistan that, even if August's calamities prove to be game-changing, its future cannot be separated from its past." READ MORE

Strategy or Alibi? Obama, McChrystal and the Operational Level of War. Hew Strachan, Survival, October /November 2010, pp. 157–182. "Obama's decision to dismiss McChrystal from his post as commander of ISAF in June 2010 has been interpreted as a clash at the interface of civil-military relations. But it has more profound underpinnings which reach into understandings of what strategy is and how it is made. Since the 1980s the armed forces both of the United States and its NATO allies have focused their intellectual attentions on the operational level of war. During the Cold War, the focus lay on the relationship between operations and tactics, not least because the Cold War itself defined the strategic context. After the end of the Cold War, the framework provided by strategy weakened, and the operational level of war assumed strategic significance, not least in the development of counter-insurgency theory. McChrystal's behaviour is only the most obvious manifestation of the military frustrations that follow when strategy is unclear." READ MORE

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