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  • Author: Thomas Waldman
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: This article examines the evolution of western policy towards the idea of pursuing negotiations with the Taliban, or 'reconciliation', in Afghanistan and the role that research and expert opinion played in that process. The official western position has evolved iteratively from initial rejection to near complete embrace of exploring the potential for talks. It is widely assumed that the deteriorating security situation was the sole determinant of this major policy reversal, persuading decisionmakers to rethink what had once been deemed unthinkable. Moreover, given the politicized and sensitive nature of the subject, we might expect the potential for outside opinion to influence decision-makers to be low. Nevertheless, this article demonstrates that it would be a mistake to underestimate the role that research and expert knowledge played-the story is more nuanced and complex. Research coalesced, sometimes prominently, with other key drivers to spur and shape policy change. Importantly, it often took experts to make sense of events on the ground, especially where the failure of the military approach was not recognized, understood or palatable to those in official circles. Research interacted with changing events, policy windows, the emergence of new personalities and the actions of various intermediaries to shape emerging positions. More broadly, the case of reconciliation in Afghanistan reveals the difficulties and challenges, but also the variety of opportunities and techniques, for achieving research influence in conflict-affected environments.
  • Topic: Security, Environment
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Rudra Chaudhuri, Theo Farrell
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Success in war depends on alignment between operations and strategy. Commonly, such alignment takes time as civilian and military leaders assess the effectiveness of operations and adjust them to ensure that strategic objectives are achieved. This article assesses prospects for the US-led campaign in Afghanistan. Drawing on extensive field research, the authors find that significant progress has been made at the operational level in four key areas: the approach to counterinsurgency operations, development of Afghan security forces, growth of Afghan sub-national governance and military momentum on the ground. However, the situation is bleak at the strategic level. The article identifies three strategic obstacles to campaign success: corruption in Afghan national government, war-weariness in NATO countries and insurgent safe havens in Pakistan. These strategic problems require political developments that are beyond the capabilities of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). In other words, further progress at the operational level will not bring 'victory'. It concludes, therefore, that there is an operational- strategic disconnect at the heart of the ISAF campaign.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Governance
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan
  • Author: Stuart Griffin
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have had profound effects on both the British and US militaries. Among the most important is the way in which they have challenged traditional assumptions about the character of unconventional conflict and the role of the military within comprehensive strategies for encouraging sustainable peace. In the UK, the most important doctrinal response has been JDP 3-40 Security and Stabilisation: the military contribution. Security and Stabilisation is an ambitious attempt to synthesize elements of counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, peace support and state-building within a single doctrine that reflects the lessons learned from recent British operational experience. This article examines the purpose, impact and potential value of this important innovation in British doctrine. To do so, the article explores the genesis of Stabilization; analyses its impact upon extant British doctrine for counterinsurgency and peace support; discusses its relationship with the most important related US doctrines, FM 3-24: the counterinsurgency field manual and FM 3-07: the stability operations field manual; and debates the function of doctrine more broadly. It concludes by summarizing the primary challenges Security and Stabilisation must overcome if it is to make a serious contribution to the theory and practice of such complex interventions.
  • Topic: Security, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, United Kingdom