Sunday, November 29, 2015


Reasons Not to Use Local Proxies. Joshua Foust argues against the use of local proxies by the United States in advancing U.S. national interests - as in the training, equipping, and advising the Iraqi and Afghan security forces. Can't say I agree with him. My thoughts are that we were (and are) less than successful in the 'use of proxies' not because of a bad strategy or policy but because of 1) poor execution - bureaucratic processes, poor selection and training of advisors, etc. and 2) a lack of political will to hold our 'proxies' leadership accountable - as in Malaki in Iraq (Shia Sunni divide) and Karzai in Afghanistan (corruption and nepotism). Read more in "The Local Proxy Problem", Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), November 22, 2015.

Kabul's Street Politics. The recent kidnapping and beheading of Hazara civilians taken off a bus in Zabul sparked massive street protests in Kabul. Some observers look at this as a new development - where Afghans take to the streets to advocate for issues. Read more in "Kabul's New Street Politics", Foreign Affairs, by Robert D. Crews, November 26, 2015.

Stability Operations in 21st Century. An article by Steven A. Zyck and Robert Muggah looks at the relationship between security and development in stabilization environments in their article "Preparing Stabilisation for 21st Century Security Challenges", Stability: International Journal of Security & Development, November 2015.

Security Assistance & Importance of Governance. Two critics look at the failures of U.S. security assistance and cooperation programs (Africa, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan) and provide their thoughts. Read "Ignoring Governance Puts Military Aid in Peril", Security Assistance Monitor, November 19, 2015.

Optimism Ending in Afghanistan. "Fifty-seven percent of Afghans say their country is heading in the wrong direction, the most pessimistic view recorded in 10 years of the Asia Foundation's annual survey of Afghan's attitudes. Unemployment and insecurity are the main causes for a sharp fall this year in public optimism . . . " Read more in "In Afghanistan, and End to Optimism?", by Gopal Ratnam, United States Institute of Peace (USIP), November 20, 2015.

Frustrated Afghans are Leaving. New public opinion data shows the governance shortcomings of Afghanistan's National Unity Government and the countries citizens are frustrated and opting for a better life outside of Afghanistan. Read "Why Afghanistan's Citizens Are Frustrated . . . And Leaving", The Diplomat, November 24, 2015.

Paper on Authoritarian COIN. David H. Ucko, an associate professor at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), National Defense University, and an adjunct research fellow at the Department of War Studies, King's College London, has wrote a paper entitled "'The People are Revolting': An Anatomy of Authoritarian Counterinsurgency", The Journal of Strategic Studies, November 2015.

Will Taliban Fragment? The Taleban movement has entered its third decade and has held up as an organization. While there have been rifts within the organization - especially after the announcement of the death of Mullah Omar - they do not pose a great threat to the insurgent organization. Read more in "Toward Fragmentation? Mapping the post-Omar Taleban", by Borhan Osman, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN),  November 24, 2015.

India - Afghanistan Relations? "Recent developments in the India-Afghanistan bilateral relationship suggests a major shift may be afoot." President Ghani got off to a rough start with his attempt to open a dialogue with Pakistan on security issues and to restart the peace process. This temporary situation was finally reversed when Ghani found Pakistan less than sincere. Now the move to India is back on - but with a 'lost year' to make up for. Read more in "A Turning Point in Afghanistan-India Relations?", by Ankit Panda, The Diplomat, November 24, 2015.

Understanding Motives in Afghan Drug Trade. In a lengthy article, Mathilde Simon helps us understand the evolution of the drug trade in Afghanistan and Afghan farmers' decision to grow opium poppies. Once this is understood - efforts can be devised to provide alternatives to Afghan farmers. Read "The Drug Trade in Afghanistan: Understanding Motives Behind Farmers' Decision to Cultivate Opium Poppies", Foreign Policy Journal, November 27, 2015.

More on India and Afghanistan. Read "What is the State of Afghanistan's Relationship with India?", The Diplomat, November 25, 2015.

UK SDSR 2015. The Brits have released the Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) 2015. Read some comments. (Think Defence, November 2015). See also a report by, November 23, 2015.

Origins of the Durand Line. This border, negotiated in an agreement between the Emirate of Afghanistan and British India, divides the Pashtun tribal regions. Pasthunistan, as this area is informally known, also resulted in the loss of Baluchistan to British India - depriving Afghanistan of its historic access to the Arabian Sea. The Durand Line has been a source of conflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan to the present day and is an issue that remains unsettled to this day. Read more in "Afghanistan and Pakistan: The Poisoned Legacy of the Durand Line", by Joseph V. Micallef, The World Post, November 21, 2015.

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