Tuesday, September 22, 2009
"If Afghanistan were taken over by the Taliban, I can't tell you how fast al-Qaida would be back in Afghanistan. So we have to be really clear-eyed about this."
Can we really be so confident that this is the case? Of course the Taliban did exactly this before 9/11. But would they really do so again if they take over the entire country? Things did not work out for them so well last time. Maybe they will have learned that joining up with the enemy of just about everyone is not a great strategy for hanging on to power. Just asking.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The first page defines the mission as "to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat Al Qaeda and prevent their return to Afghanistan." At a later point, the mission is defined as "to reduce the capability and will of the insurgency, support the growth in capacity and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces, and facilitate improvements in governance and socio-economic development. . ."
So the first mission is counter-terrorism, and the second is state-building. Which mission dominates should have a huge influence on the choice of strategy. If the mission is state-building, the strategy needs to be long-term, much better resourced, and politically insulated from the inevitable setbacks (see: recent national election). If the mission is counterterrorism, the range of possible strategies is wider (the much criticized "offshore" counterterrorism operations, allying with local groups and warlords, focusing on international cooperation in the region and beyond), but likely to demand fewer resources or commitments to a failed Afghan state.
It would be useful if the assessment was more clarity on this point. Is the argument that state-building is the only effective way to pursue counterterrorism? Are NATO and the US pursuing one or both missions? If not, which one is more important?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Some are already criticizing the metrics as either insufficiently or overly ambitious. More important, I think, is understanding how these (or any other metrics) will influence policy. What happens if, say, none of the metrics are met in a year? Does the US withdraw? Or does it increase its political and military commitment to achieving the metrics? Is the mission over only when all of the metrics are in place, or do only some have to be met for the mission to be considered a success?
Without detailing the consequences of meeting or failing to meet the metrics, this list seems to serve few purposes. It does not tell the US public or political leaders the link between outcomes in the region and our level of commitment. As or more important, it does not tell the Afghan and Pakistani governments what happens if they fail to meet their metrics.
Publishing this list, though, is a step in the right direction. We clearly need to have a political discussion of the goals we seek to accomplish in the region. But we also need to be clear, before committing more forces, how achieving or not achieving these metrics will influence subsequent policy.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
An big risk, though, is that Afghanistan will come to totally dominate US counterterrorism policy, as Iraq did a few years ago. This is a problem because Afghanistan might not be all that important to Al Qaeda. The organization also has safe haven, to some extent, in Pakistan, Yemen, etc. and is also able to operate clandestinely in western Europe and the Middle East. The use of force in Afghanistan for the last 8 years has not prevented Al Qaeda from sponsoring attacks in Pakistan, India, Iraq, Indonesia, Jordan, Algeria, Britain, etc.
Wiping out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan via state building would be a hugely expensive and difficult task. And it might not work; the organization could simply shift more of its activities to other parts of the world.
Stopping Al Qaeda in Afghanistan leaves fewer resources for stopping Al Qaeda everywhere else. Instead of trying to reform the country from top to bottom, the US and NATO could play more of a balancing role among the different political and ethnic groups in the country. This would involve using carrots and sticks to reward groups that do not work with Al Qaeda and punish those that do. It would also mean leaving most questions of governance (or non-governance) up to the Afghans.
Such a divide and conquer strategy could have serious risks too. What would the US and NATO do if a political faction in Afghanistan engaged in gross human rights abuses? Or trafficked drugs? Could they just stand by and ignore this? What if the US and NATO continued to use drone attacks continued to hit civilians and drove some to support Al Qaeda?
There are no good options for dealing with Afghanistan. But I would point out that the current approach has not prevented human rights abuses, drug trafficking, or collator damage. Maybe it's time to put the threat from Afghanistan in perspective, and scale the effort and ambition there accordingly.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Center for Homeland Defense and Security (www.chds.us) is seeking entries for its Third Annual Essay Competition. The competition carries a $1,500 prize for the winning entry and the writer will be invited to the Center’s campus for its annual Forum. This competition strives to stimulate original thought and analysis on issues in Homeland Security and Homeland Defense. The competition is open to anyone with an interest in homeland security issues.
The criteria for the essay and its submission are:
Statement of Purpose:
According to the National Strategy for Homeland Security, the objectives of homeland security are to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. The purpose of this competition is to promote innovative thinking that addresses these objectives.
How can, or should, the United States make homeland security a more layered, networked, and resilient endeavor involving all citizens?
Responses may be general or may focus on a specific aspect (organizational, policy, strategy, practice, technological innovation, social impact, etc.) or discipline/field, such as emergency management, public health, law enforcement, critical infrastructure or intelligence. The essay may also be written from any perspective — e.g. government, private sector, cultural, local community or citizen.
Who may enter:
Anyone interested in homeland security issues. Individuals associated with CHDS past and present are not eligible.
The essay should be no more than five pages, single spaced, 12-point type and in Word or PDF format. Do not include author’s name on the essay. Entries will be submitted via webpage instructions. Deadline for submission: January 31, 2010.
The winner and finalists will be announced no later than May 31, 2010.
Essays are judged according to the relevance of the response to the question, innovation of ideas, strength of the argument and quality of the writing.
The winner will receive a $1,500 cash award and will be invited to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, located at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., where he or she will be recognized at the CHDS Forum.
Last year’s winning entry was titled “Emergency Response, Public Health and Poison Control: Logical Linkages for Successful Risk Communication and Improved Disaster and Mass Incident Response” and authored by Valerie Yeager, research assistant and writer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham South Central Center for Public Health Preparedness. The essay was the top essay out of 147 entries.
The winning essay for the first year of the contest was titled “Reducing the Risk” by Matthew Allen, a staff scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California. This essay was chosen out of 80 entries.
For contest information and to enter, visit www.chds.us/?essay/overview.
Established in 2002 on the campus of the 100-year-old Naval Postgraduate School, the Center seeks to educate homeland security leaders in strategic thinking and leadership from a multi-disciplinary perspective. The Center’s master’s degree program graduates 90 senior officials every year and is noted for offering the nation’s first master’s degree in homeland security. The Mobile Education Team (MET) travels around the country and has conducted more than 100 seminars for governors, mayors and their homeland security teams. More than 3,000 senior officials have participated in the MET program since its inception. The Center’s Executive Leaders Program draws leaders from government and private industry to provide an educational forum to enhance senior leaders’ capacity to identify and resolve homeland security problems. For information, visit www.chds.us.
The mission of the Naval Postgraduate School is to provide unique advanced education and research programs in order to increase the combat effectiveness of the U.S. and Allied armed forces as well as enhance the security of the United States. For information, see www.nps.edu.
For information, contact:
Director, Strategic Communications
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
- Why is torture bad
- New Geneva Convetion
- Read my book to me for free
- Effect of torture on war on terror
- Back start
- Read my book for free
- Substitutes for torture
- STM vs humanities and social science publishing
- Torture on terrorism statistics
- Intelligence sharing EU
- The coffin torcher how it works
- Statistics on terrorist torture
- Channels journal
- Iphone email notification light
- European Union intelligence sharing
- Henley-Putnam University controversy
- Read my book to me online