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  • Author: Mieke Eoyang, Ben Freeman
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Over Memorial Day weekend, President Obama announced that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the longest-held American captive in the Afghanistan conflict, had been released in exchange for five Taliban detainees in Guantanamo Bay. While the initial response to Bergdahl's release was positive, the deal quickly came under fire from the Right, including some who previously had advocated for his release.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, North America
  • Author: Ashley J. Tellis
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Although meaningful cooperation in the region surrounding Afghanistan is of vital importance, it has been elusive because Afghanistan\'s key neighbors have significantly divergent aims. Engineering a successful regional solution would require the United States to fundamentally transform either these actors\' objectives or their dominant strategies. Achieving the latter may prove more feasible, most crucially vis-à-vis Pakistan. The region\'s history of discord is mainly rooted in the troubled relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although Pakistan\'s involvement in Afghanistan is colored by its rivalry with India, its relations with Afghanistan are a geopolitical challenge independent of India because of its fears of disorder along its western borders, the unwelcome idea of “Pashtunistan,” and a related long-standing border dispute. Pakistan\'s reaction to these problems has only exacerbated them. As Islamabad, by supporting the Taliban insurgency, has sought to exercise preponderant, if not overweening, influence over Kabul\'s strategic choices, it has earned Kabul\'s distrust, deepened the Kabul–New Delhi partnership, and increased the risk to its relations with Washington—not to mention threatening the lives of U.S. and other coalition forces operating in Afghanistan. Despite widespread support in Afghanistan for ending the war through a negotiated settlement if possible, the Afghan Taliban leadership is unlikely to consider reconciliation unless it is faced with the prospect of continued losses of the kind sustained as a result of coalition military operations in 2010. A regional solution is similarly unlikely as long as Afghanistan and its neighbors, including India, perceive Islamabad as bent on holding Kabul in a choking embrace. Solving these problems lies beyond the capability of American diplomacy, and right now even of the promised diplomatic surge. The best hope for progress lies in continuing military action to alter the realities on the ground— thereby inducing the Taliban to consider reconciliation, while simultaneously neutralizing the Pakistani strategy that is currently preventing a regional solution. To increase the probability of military success, however, President Obama will need to forgo the politically calculated drawdown of combat troops this summer and instead accept the advice of his field commanders to maintain the largest possible contingent necessary for the coming campaign in eastern Afghanistan. Hard and unpalatable as it might be for the president, this course alone offers a solution that will protect the recent gains in Afghanistan and advance American interests over the long term.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, America, Washington
  • Author: Gilles Dorronsoro
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After seven years of war, the international community has failed to create the conditions for a sustainable Afghan state. The reality is that the international coalition now has limited resources and a narrow political time frame to create lasting Afghan institutions. Yet building such institutions is our only realistic exit strategy. The debate in Washington and European capitals has recently centered on how many more troops will be sent to Afghanistan in 2009 as part of a military surge. Such a tactical adjustment is unlikely to make much of a difference in a country where the basic population-to-troops ratio is estimated at approximately 430 people per foreign soldier.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Marina Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Obama administration will face a Middle East where the problems are enormous, U.S. interests have shifted eastward, and solutions are elusive. Major conflicts appear deadlocked: the peace process, political reconciliation in Iraq, and negotiations with Iran. The situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is deteriorating rapidly. The new administration promises to bring to all these issues a welcome change from its predecessor's attitudes: during the election campaign, President-elect Barack Obama made it clear that he would resuscitate the idea that diplomacy, not force, is the weapon of first resort, and that diplomatic progress requires a willingness to talk to hostile, even rogue, regimes. While this promised return to diplomatic normality is encouraging, it will not be enough. The United States cannot break the deadlock on most issues without the help of countries of the region, sharing with them the burden and the responsibility. This would not be abdicating the United States' great power role, but rather recognizing changing realities in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Dmitri V. Trenin
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: U.S.–Russian relations matter again. To succeed where Bush has failed, Obama needs to approach Russia strategically: enhancing cooperation where possible, mitigating conflict where necessary. To prevent new conflict and receive Moscow's cooperation, Washington needs to deal seriously with Russian concerns. Leave Russia's domestic politics to the Russians. To keep Ukraine whole and free, the EU integration way is the way. NATO has reached the safe limits of eastward expansion. To protect against missile threats, a pan-European TMD system—which includes Russia—is the best option. On Iran and Afghanistan, Russia should be treated as an equal partner
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Washington, Ukraine, Moscow
  • Author: William Maley
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan cannot be stabilized by quick fixes. The United States, NATO, and their allies need to make a sustained commitment for the long term. Instead of a simple “surge,” there needs to be a much clearer focus on bringing security to Afghans' daily lives. Only once this is achieved will Afghanistan's government have real reservoirs of legitimacy. Afghanistan has not been served well by its 2004 Constitution, which created a dysfunctional system of government that relies too much on the president alone. The United States should support systemic reforms, first through the development of an effective executive office to support the Afghan president. Counternarcotics policies in Afghanistan must take account of domestic socioeconomic complexities, and be based on long-term development projects that increase the returns from cultivating different crops. Serious thought needs to be given to encouraging more Muslim states to contribute personnel to support the promotion of human security and development in Afghanistan. Pakistan needs to be pressured discreetly but very strongly to arrest the Afghan Taliban leadership in Pakistan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Karim Sadjadpour
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Although Tehran and Washington appear hopelessly divided, issues of broad mutual concern reveal important overlapping interests. The United States can more effectively support democracy and human rights in Iran with policies that facilitate, rather than impede, Iran's modernization and reintegration in the global economy. The next U.S. president should not immediately seek comprehensive engagement with Tehran, as this might enhance Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chances of reelection in Iran's June 2009 presidential elections. The United States must deal with those who hold power in Tehran, namely Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Given the widespread mutual mistrust between Washington and Tehran, confidence should be built with negotiations on areas of common interest, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than those of little or no common interest, such as the Palestinian–Israeli conflict or the nuclear issue. When it comes to U.S.–Iranian interaction, the record shows that “secret” or “private” discussions out of public earshot have a greater success rate. Building confidence in the public realm will be difficult, as politicians on both sides will likely feel the need to use harsh rhetoric to maintain appearances. It is imperative that Washington maintain a multilateral approach toward Iran, especially regarding the nuclear issue. Tehran is highly adept at exploiting rifts in the international community and diplomatic efforts to check Iran's nuclear ambitions will unravel if key countries approach Iran with divergent redlines. Powerful spoilers—both within Iran and among Iran's Arab allies—have entrenched economic and political interests in preventing U.S.–Iranian reconciliation.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Palestine
  • Author: Ashley Tellis
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Many Americans have blamed the resurgence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban on Pakistan's lackluster performance in the war on terror. Islamabad has indeed been ambivalent, but the convulsive political deterioration in the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan, Islamabad's military ineptitude in counterterrorism operations, and the political failures of the Karzai government in Afghanistan have all exacerbated the problem. Making U.S. aid conditional on Pakistan's performance in the war or undertaking unilateral strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan would inflate suspicion of Washington's motives, and risk casting Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state, as an American adversary. U.S. policy must instead convince Pakistani elites that defeating terrorist groups serves their own interest, while emphasizing that a terrorist attack emanating from Pakistan would push Washington to adopt more painful tactics.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, America, Washington, Asia, Taliban
  • Author: Anatol Lieven, Marina Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan after the Taliban may easily turn into a quagmire for the international community, and the wrong kind of international strategies may easily worsen both its problems and ours. In particular, to begin with a grossly overambitious program of reconstruction risks acute disillusionment, international withdrawal, and a plunge into a new cycle of civil war and religious fanaticism.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Taliban
  • Author: Martha Brill Olcott
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Now is the time to learn the lessons of the past decade in Afghanistan: how it declined from a failing state into a cesspool drawing in Islamic malcontents from all over the world as well as those, like Osama bin Laden, who could bankroll them. If we fail to do so, our freedom may regularly be challenged by threats emerging from the heart of Eurasia, from Afghanistan itself, or from the neighboring states whose fates are being reshaped by their troublesome neighbor.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Eurasia