Sunday, August 30, 2015


Afghanistan, Choose Your Enemies Wisely. Jeff Eggers, a senior fellow at New America, an adjunct senior fellow with the RAND Corporation, and a former Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, provides us with his view on how political accommodation can help prevent conflict escalation and how that concept can still be applied to Afghanistan. The lumping together of terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan has hampered reconciliation efforts with the Taliban. He worries that a skewed view of accommodation will prevent the Afghan government (and the U.S.) in taking one last opportunity for a negotiated settlement. Read his paper Afghanistan, Choose Your Enemies Wisely, The RAND Blog, August 2015.

Why Afghanistan Matters for U.S. James B. Cunningham and Ryan Crocker (both former U.S. ambassadors to Afghanistan) tell us that Afghanistan needs a sustained U.S. and partner support. They say that despite the success of the transition of security to Afghanistan there have been some setbacks and disappointments and that many challenges remain. Read their views in a CNN political op-ed published on August 25, 2015.

Building Partner Capacity.  A host of writers have collaborated in a publication entitled What Works Best When Building Partner Capacity in Challenging Contexts?, RAND Corporation, August 2015. The report explores what the United States can do when conducting BPC in challenging contexts to maximize prospects for success. Some of the key findings include "Many Challenges Stem from U.S. Policy or Practice", "The Partner Nation (PN) Itself Must Be Willing to Engage Fully", "PN Ministerial Capacity Can Be Extremely Important", and "Consistency is Key". The paper also provides several recommendations.

Paper - Resistance to Government & Modernization in Afghanistan. Mohammad Attar Abkenar in his PhD thesis examines two epochs of reform and resistance to the government in Afghanistan's modern history. The paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the internal and external factors that terminated the government's efforts in consolidating the central authority and modernizing the country. Resistance to the Government in Afghanistan's Modern History: a Case Study Approach,  April 2015.

Does Security Assistance Reduce Terrorism? Matthew Saintsing states that no large-scale quantitative studies finds a positive correlation between U.S. security assistance and a reduction in terrorism - although there are some notable successes (as in USSF in Philippines). Some ". . . studies find a positive correlation between assistance to aid sectors other than police and military of partner nations and a reduction in terrorism." Read his article posted on Small Wars Journal, August 26, 2015.

Pick Our Battles Carefully. Joshua Foust examines the military actions of the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere and explains "Why the Mightiest Superpower on Earth Hasn't Won a Won in Decades", Playboy, August 23, 2015. Sorry, no pictures of scantily-clad ladies in this article. Foust provides food for thought but it is difficult to agree with some of his observations and conclusions.

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