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  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Environment, War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Taliban, Cuba
  • Author: Matthew Moten
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In June, U.S. President Barack Obama acted swiftly and wisely in relieving General Stanley McChrystal of command of the war in Afghanistan. In removing McChrystal for making disparaging comments about civilian leaders in a Rolling Stone article, the president reasserted the constitutional principle of civilian control of the military. He also immediately appointed General David Petraeus as the new commanding general in Afghanistan, with the U.S. mission continuing as before. Republicans did not try to exploit the situation for political advantage. There was no crisis, no rending of the fabric of political-military relations, and no threat to the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the current state of relations between the United States' highest civilian and military leaders is quite good. This is a welcome change, and it began with the tenure of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who changed the climate at the Pentagon from one of suspicion to one of collaboration. Gates has established an atmosphere of trust and respect, combined with an unflinching demand for accountability. Although Donald Rumsfeld had a reputation for leading by fear and intimidation, in his six years as secretary of defense, he fired only one service secretary, Army Secretary Thomas White -- largely over personal differences -- and no flag officers (the hundreds of generals and admirals who compose the country's senior military leadership). In contrast, Gates has dismissed two service secretaries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the air force chief of staff, the commanding admiral of Central Command, two commanding generals in Afghanistan, and the surgeon general of the army. Yet Gates and Obama have also shown forbearance. Last October, in the midst of the administration's review of the country's Afghanistan policy, McChrystal publicly warned of "mission failure" if a significant infusion of U.S. troops was not made. But instead of removing McChrystal, who had become commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan less than three months earlier, Gates and Obama gave McChrystal a clear message about his place in the political-military partnership. Obama had a private chat with the general on Air Force One, and Gates delivered a highly publicized speech in which he reminded his listeners that "it is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations -- civilian and military alike -- provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately."
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Thomas A. Marks, Sebastian L.v. Gorka, Robert Sharp
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: PRISM
  • Institution: National Defense University Press
  • Abstract: As the famous Prussian general once warned, the first priority is to ascertain what type of conflict is to be fought. Carl von Clausewitz's seminal writings laid the foundation of thinking for modern warfare defined around the needs of the nascent Westphalian nation-state. His prioritization, his "wonderful trinity," and his recognition that war is but "politics by other means" have served both strategist and statesman well during the conventional wars of the post-Napoleonic age.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Mexico, Prussia
  • Author: Matthew W. Parin
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: PRISM
  • Institution: National Defense University Press
  • Abstract: Against the backdrop of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a changing strategic environment in the broader Middle East, political leaders now are confronting the difficult question of how to achieve long-term stability. The toppling of the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan and removal of Saddam Hussein from Iraq displayed the capability of America's military to marshal overwhelming conventional force against its enemies. However, this overwhelming capability soon was eclipsed when this same force struggled to secure durable peace either in Iraq or Afghanistan.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, America, Middle East, Taliban
  • Author: T. X. Hammes
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: PRISM
  • Institution: National Defense University Press
  • Abstract: In his introduction to this new edition of War of Necessity, War of Choice, Richard Haass states that the "book's core is a distinction with a difference. There are wars of necessity and wars of choice. Confusing the two runs the danger of ill-advised decisions to go to war." He might have added "or to continue a war."
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iran
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: PRISM
  • Institution: National Defense University Press
  • Abstract: After almost a decade of war, our Soldiers and leaders continue to perform magnificently in the harshest conditions and within the incredibly complex operating environments of Iraq and Afghanistan. They operate as part of increasingly decentralized organizations, and their tasks are made even more challenging by the unprecedented degree of transparency and near-instantaneous transmission of information. These trends are not an aberration. The future operating environment promises to grow even more complex. Because of that, we believe it is important to reflect on what it means to be a part of a profession. We are asking ourselves how 9 years of war and an era of persistent transparency have affected our understanding of what it means to be a professional Soldier.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq
  • Author: John A. Nagl, Brian M Burton
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: After a slow start, the U.S. military has made remarkable strides in adapting to irregular warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is beginning to institutionalize those adaptations. Recent Department of Defense (DOD) directives and field manuals have elevated stability operations and counterinsurgency to the same level of importance as conventional military offensive and defensive operations. These changes are the outcome of deep reflection about the nature of current and likely future threats to U.S. national security and the military's role in addressing them. They represent important steps toward transforming a sclerotic organizational culture that long encouraged a ''we don't do windows'' posture on so-called ''military operations other than war,'' even as the nation's leaders called upon the armed forces to perform those types of missions with increasing frequency.
  • Topic: National Security, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq
  • Author: C. Raja Mohan
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: One of the major contributions of Barack Obama's presidential campaign during 2007—08 was his political success in shifting the focus of the U.S. foreign policy debate away from Iraq and toward Afghanistan. The reversal of fortunes in the two major wars that President George W. Bush had embarked upon during his tenure (a steady improvement in the military situation in Iraq during the last two years of the Bush administration and the rapidly deteriorating one in Afghanistan) helped Obama to effectively navigate the foreign policy doldrums that normally sink the campaigns of Democratic candidates in U.S. presidential elections. Throughout his campaign, Obama insisted that the war on terror that began in Afghanistan must also end there. He attacked Bush for taking his eyes off the United States' ''war of necessity,'' embarking on a disastrous ''war of choice'' in Iraq, and promised to devote the U.S. military and diplomatic energies to a region that now threatened U.S. interests and lives: the borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, South Asia
  • Author: Bruce Riedel
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The National Interest
  • Institution: The Nixon Center
  • Abstract: IN DECEMBER 2007 Benazir Bhutto said, "I now think al-Qaeda can be marching on Islamabad in two to four years." Before this interview could even be published she was murdered, most likely by the Pakistani Taliban, an al-Qaeda ally. Benazir's words now look all too accurate. A jihadist victory in Pakistan, meaning the takeover of the nation by a militant Sunni movement led by the Taliban, would have devastating consequences. It would create the greatest threat the United States has yet to face in its war on terror. Pakistan as an Islamic-extremist safe haven would bolster al-Qaeda's capabilities tenfold. The jihadist threat bred in Afghanistan would be a cakewalk in comparison. The old Afghan sanctuary was remote, landlocked and weak; a new one in Pakistan would be in the Islamic mainstream with a modern communications and transportation infrastructure linking it to the world. The threat would be almost unfathomable. The implications would be literally felt around the globe. American options for dealing with such a state would be limited and costly.
  • Topic: Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Elan Journo
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Author's note: The following is the introduction to Winning the Unwinnable War: America's Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism. The book is being published by Lexington Books and is scheduled for release this November. "I don't think you can win it. . . . I don't have any . . . definite end [for the war]"-President George W. Bush1 The warriors came in search of an elusive Taliban leader. Operating in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, the team of Navy SEALs was on difficult terrain in an area rife with Islamist fighters. The four men set off after their quarry. But sometime around noon that day, the men were boxed into an impossible situation. Three Afghan men, along with about one hundred goats, happened upon the team's position. What should the SEALs do? Their mission potentially compromised, they interrogated the Afghan herders. But they got nothing. Nothing they could count on. "How could we know," recalls one of the SEALs, "if they were affiliated with a Taliban militia group or sworn by some tribal blood pact to inform the Taliban leaders of anything suspicious-looking they found in the mountains?" It was impossible to know for sure. This was war, and the "strictly correct military decision would still be to kill them without further discussion, because we could not know their intentions." Working behind enemy lines, the team was sent there "by our senior commanders. We have a right to do everything we can to save our own lives. The military decision is obvious. To turn them loose would be wrong." But the men of SEAL Team 10 knew one more thing. They knew that doing the right thing for their mission-and their own lives-could very well mean spending the rest of their days behind bars at Leavenworth. The men were subject to military rules of engagement that placed a mandate on all warriors to avoid civilian casualties at all costs. They were expected to bend over backward to protect Afghans, even if that meant forfeiting an opportunity to kill Islamist fighters and their commanders, and even if that meant imperiling their own lives. The SEALs were in a bind. Should they do what Washington and the military establishment deemed moral-release the herders and assume a higher risk of death-or protect themselves and carry out their mission-but suffer for it back home? The men-Lt. Michael Murphy; Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew Axelson; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz; and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell-took a vote. They let the herders go. Later that afternoon, a contingent of about 100-140 Taliban fighters swarmed upon the team. The four Americans were hugely outnumbered. The battle was fierce. Dietz fought on after taking five bullets, but succumbed to a sixth, in the head. Murphy and Axelson were killed not long after. When the air support that the SEALs had called for finally arrived, all sixteen members of the rescuing team were killed by the Islamists. Luttrell was the lone survivor, and only just.2 The scene of carnage on that mountainside in Afghanistan captures something essential about American policy. What made the deadly ambush all the more tragic is that in reaching their decision, those brave SEALs complied with the policies handed down to them from higher-ups in the military and endorsed by the nation's commander-in-chief. Their decision to place the moral injunction to selflessness ahead of their mission and their very lives encapsulates the defining theme of Washington's policy response to 9/11. Across all fronts U.S. soldiers are made to fight under the same, if not even more stringent, battlefield rules. Prior to the start of the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War, for instance, the military's legal advisors combed through the Pentagon's list of potential targets, and expansive "no-strike" lists were drawn up.3 Included on the no-strike lists were cultural sites, electrical plants, broadcast facilities-a host of legitimate strategic targets ruled untouchable, for fear of affronting or harming civilians. To tighten the ropes binding the hands of the military, some artillery batteries "were programmed with a list of sites that could not be fired on without a manual override," which would require an OK from the top brass.4 From top to bottom, the Bush administration consciously put the moral imperative of shielding civilians and bringing them elections above the goal of eliminating real threats to our security. . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, America