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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This report reflects major progress in many areas of ANSF development. It also warns, however, just how rapidly the ANSF has expanded, and how poorly that expansion was initially funded and staffed with adequate advisors. It also shows that much of the ANSF is a relatively ineffective and corrupt police force that lacks the support of other key elements of the justice system in many areas. The unclassified reporting also have ceased to provide any meaningful insight into the development of either the Ministry of Defense or Ministry of the Interior, and that the reporting of unclassified readiness data on the ANA and ANP has been reduced in scope over the last six months to the point where it has little or no real meaning.
  • Topic: Corruption, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • 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: Thomas M. Sanderson, Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, Stephanie Sanok Kostro, Zachary I. Fellman, Rob Wise
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The bulk of international counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and related efforts over the last decade have focused on targeting a select few extremist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. Yet looming security transitions, international fiscal strictures, demographic trends, religious and ethnic tensions, popular dissatisfaction, and weak governance are likely having significant and worrying effects on a wide array of militant actors around the world. A narrow focus on those groups perceived to be the most immediate threats has, at times, come at the cost of a broader understanding of militancy and how it may manifest in a given region.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Taliban
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai, Robert M. Shelala II, Nori Kasting, Sean Mann
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Security and stability in Central and South Asia are driven by regional tensions and quarrels, and the internal instability of regional states. Weak governance and corruption are major problems in every state in the region, along with state barriers to economic growth and development and – in most cases – under investment in education, health, and infrastructure. Very young populations face major unemployment and underemployment problems and income distribution is badly unbalanced, and on sharply favors the ruling power elite. Ethic, tribal, and sectarian tensions compound these problems, and in many cases, so do internal and external threats from Islamic extremists and the growing tensions between Sunni and Shi‟ite.
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, India
  • 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: Huasheng Zhao
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China holds clear, coherent, but relatively low-profile positions on Afghanistan. While staying largely with the mainstream of the international community on the issue of Afghanistan, China maintains an independent policy that reflects the peculiarities of Chinese interests, concerns, and priorities in Afghanistan. China has multiple interests in Afghanistan; however, domestic concerns about the security and stability of the largely Muslim region of Xinjiang overwhelm all others. China maintains normal and good relations with the Afghan government, takes active part in the country's economic rebuilding, and provides Afghanistan financial aid and other assistance. China supports the international community in its efforts in Afghanistan, but stays away from direct military involvement. China refrains from criticizing America's involvement in the war in Afghan- istan, but it doubts the war's efficacy, and China refuses to join the American Northern Distribu- tion Network (NDN) to Afghanistan. China dislikes the Taliban because of its close relations with the “East Turkistan” organization—a Uyghur separatist group—but China deals with the Taliban cautiously, trying to avoid direct conflict. China favors an Afghanistan governed by Afghans and hopes that the “Kabul process”—the transition to greater Afghan responsibility and ownership in both security and civilian areas—will have a successful end. At the same time, China also prepares for unexpected outcomes.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US may not face peer threats in the near to mid term, but it faces a wide variety of lesser threats that make maintaining effective military forces, foreign aid, and other national security programs a vital national security interest. The US does need to reshape its national security planning and strategy to do a far better job of allocating resources to meet these threats. It needs to abandon theoretical and conceptual exercises in strategy that do not focus on detailed force plans, manpower plans, procurement plans, and budgets; and use its resources more wisely. The US still dominates world military spending, but it must recognize that maintaining the US economy is a vital national security interest in a world where the growth and development of other nations and regions means that the relative share the US has in the global economy will decline steadily over time, even under the best circumstances. At the same time, US dependence on the security and stability of the global economy will continue to grow indefinitely in the future. Talk of any form of “independence,” including freedom from energy imports, is a dangerous myth. The US cannot maintain and grow its economy without strong military forces and effective diplomatic and aid efforts. US military and national security spending already places a far lower burden on the US economy than during the peaceful periods of the Cold War, and existing spending plans will lower that burden in the future. National security spending is now averaging between 4% and 5% of the GDP -- in spite of the fact the US has been fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- versus 6 - 7% during the Cold War.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Robert D. Lamb, Liora Danan, Joy Aoun, Sadika Hameed, Kathryn Mixon, Denise St. Peter
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The top headlines of the past year have made increasingly clear to U.S. government officials the central—but complicated—roles that religion plays in many of the most strategically important engagements of the United States.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, South Asia, India
  • 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