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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: President Obama has addressed the need to deal with Ukraine and the Islamic State in speeches and at the NATO Ministerial meeting Afghanistan, however, has become the forgotten war at a time when the Taliban is making steady gains, civilian casualties are rising there is still no effective Afghan government the Afghan economy is in crisis, and there still are no clear plans for any post 2014 aspect of transition.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The more one looks at the current situation in Afghanistan today, the more likely it seems that Transition will at best produce a weak and divided state and at worst a state that either continues its civil war or comes under Taliban and extremist control. More than a decade of Western intervention has not produced a strong and viable central government, an economy that can function without massive outside aid, or effective Afghan forces. There is no sign that insurgents are being pushed towards defeat or will lose their sanctuaries in Pakistan. This has made every aspect of Transition is a high-risk effort.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Development, Islam, Terrorism, War, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Taliban
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: More than a decade into the “war on terrorism,” much of the political debate in the US is still fixated on the legacy of 9/11. US politics has a partisan fixation on Benghazi, the Boston Marathon bombing, intelligence intercepts, and Guantanamo. Far too much US attention still focuses on “terrorism” at a time the US faces a much broader range of threats from the instability in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) and Islamic world. Moreover, much of the US debate ignores the fact that the US has not actually fought a “war on terrorism” over the last decade, and the US failures in using military force and civil aid in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US has not fought wars as such, but rather became involved in exercises in armed nation building where stability operations escalated into national building as a result of US occupation and where the failures in stability operations and nation building led to insurgencies that forced the US into major counterinsurgency campaigns that had little to do with counterterrorism. An analysis of the trends in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts shows that the US has not been fighting a war on terrorism since Bin Laden and Al Qaida Central were driven into Pakistan in December 2001. The US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and then made stability operations and armed nation building its key goals. It was US mishandling of these exercises in armed nation building that led to major counterinsurgency campaigns although – at least in the case of Afghanistan --the US continued to label its military operations as a struggle against “terrorism.” By 2013, the US had committed well over $1.4 trillion to these exercises in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the US made massive increases in its domestic spending on homeland defense that it rationalized as part of the fight against terrorism but often had little or nothing to do with any aspect of counterterrorism. At the same time, the US failed to develop consistent or useful unclassified statistics on the patterns in terrorism and its counterterrorism activities. The US government has never provided a meaningful break out of federal activities and spending at home or abroad which actually focus on terrorism, or any unclassified measures of effectiveness. The OMB has lumped a wide range of activities that have no relation to terrorism it its reporting on the President's budget request – activities whose total cost now approach $60 billion a year. The Department of Defense has never provided a meaningful estimate of the total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or a break out of the small portion of total overseas contingency operations (OCO) spending actually spent on counterterrorism versus counter insurgency. The State Department and US intelligence community provide no meaningful unclassified data on the cost of their counterterrorism effort and it is unclear that they have developed any metrics at any level that show the cost-benefits of their activities. The annual US State Department country reports on terrorism come as close to an unclassified report on the status of terrorism as the US government provides. While many portions are useful, the designation of terrorist movements is often political and shows the US designation of terrorist movements conflates terrorism and insurgency. The closest the US has come to developing any metrics on terrorism has been to develop an unclassified database in the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) that never distinguished terrorism from insurgency. This database formed the core of the statistical annex to State Department reporting, but has since been withdrawn without explanation. As this analysis shows in detail, it now has been replaced by a contractor effort that makes all of the previous mistakes made by the NCTC. The end result is a set of official reporting and statistics in the annex to the State Department report where “terrorism” remains remained poorly defined, badly structured, ignored in parts of the world, and conflates terrorism with counterinsurgency, instability, and civil war. A review of the Afghan, Iraq conflicts, and other recent conflicts in the MENA region shows just how serious these problems are in distorting the true nature of the wars the US is fighting and the threats it faces. The same is true of the unclassified reporting the US government provides on terrorism. A detailed review of the most recent State Department report on terrorism provides important insights into key terrorist movements, but the narratives generally ignore their ties to insurgent movements, their statistical data include some major insurgent movements and exclude others, and many of the data seem to include violence that is not truly terroristic in character.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US is already at least six months behind in shaping an effective Transition in Afghanistan. It has not laid credible plans for the security, governance, and economic aspects of Transition. It has not made its level of future commitment clear to its allies or the Afghans, and it has failed dismally to convince the Congress and the American people that there is a credible reason to support Transition beyond the end of 2014.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Islam, War, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Mariam Mufti
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The importance of studying the rise of Islamic radicalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot be overemphasized. First, both Afghanistan and Pakistan have experienced serious threats from radical Islamic groups. In Afghanistan, coalition forces led by the United States were successful in overthrowing the Taliban regime after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but since then there has been a resurgence in violence that is being perpetrated by a combination of the Taliban who have regrouped, the Haqqani Network (HQN) and Hizb-e-Islami (HiG). Foreign groups such as al Qaeda are also implicated in the violence. In Pakistan, most of the militant activity has occurred in the frontier region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, known as the FATA. But other parts of Pakistan, especially Punjab, have also been subject to bomb attacks. These attacks have not only targeted Pakistanis but also foreigners, including U.S. government facilities.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan
  • Author: Sergey Markedonov
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As Kyrgyzstan plunges into crisis and the threat of a second Afghanistan in Central Asia looms large, the situation in the "Big Caucasus" seems less pressing and thus overshadowed. The worst scenarios predicted by analysts and politicians for the period of the 2008 August war have not been realized. The Russian attempt to "replace the regime" of Mikhail Saakashvili or apply the Georgian pattern in Ukraine, expected by many in the West, has not taken place. Neither have the attempts from the West (the United States, NATO, and others) to "nudge Georgia into a rematch," which were expected in Moscow. Nonetheless, the Caucasus region remains one of the most vulnerable spaces in Eurasia. In the Caucasus, the first precedent of a revision of borders between the former Soviet republics was established. For the first time in Eurasia, and particularly in the Caucasus, partially recognized states have emerged. While their independence is denied by the United Nations, it is recognized by the Russian Federation, a permanent member of the UN Security Council. After the "hot August" of 2008, Moscow demonstrated its willingness to play the role of a revisionist state for the first time since 1991. Russia defines the "Big Caucasus" as the sphere of its vital interests and priorities and consequently pretends to be a key stakeholder for the whole region.
  • Topic: NATO, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Central Asia, Eurasia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Moscow, United Nations