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  • Author: Peter D. Feaver
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: On January 10, 2007, President George W. Bush announced in a televised prime-time address to the nation a bold, even risky, new strategy in the Iraq War. The United States' military and political fortunes in the war had eroded so sharply over the preceding year that President Bush had authorized a thorough internal review to deter - mine why the current strategy was not succeeding and what, if anything, could be done about it. The review had concluded that the United States was on a trajectory that would end in defeat unless the president authorized a new strategy and committed new resources to it. Bush used the televised address to describe in broad strokes the results of the review and the new strategy, which the media quickly dubbed the “surge strategy,” because its most controversial provision involved sending have new brigade combat teams (BCTs) to Iraq, a commitment that grew to a total of nearly 30,000 additional troops—this at a time when public support for the Iraq War was strained to the breaking point.
  • Topic: Intelligence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Charles A. Duelfer, Stephen Benedict Dyson
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Why did the United States and Iraq and themselves in full-scale conflict with each other in 1990–91 and 2003, and in almost constant low-level hostilities during the years in- between? We suggest that the situation was neither inevitable nor one that either side, in full possession of all the relevant information about the other, would have purposely engineered: in short, a classic instance of chronic misperception. Combining the psychological literature on perception and its pathologies with the almost unique firsthand access of one of the authors— Charles Duelfer—to the decisionmakers on both sides, we isolate the perceptions that the United States and Iraq held of each other, as well as the biases, mistakes, and intelligence failures of which these images were, at different points in time, both cause and effect.
  • Topic: Intelligence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Soviet Union
  • Author: Thomas Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A salient feature of armed conflict in the Muslim world since 1980 is the involvement of so-called foreign fighters, that is, unpaid combatants with no apparent link to the conflict other than religious affinity with the Muslim side. Since 1980 between 10,000 and 30,000 such fighters have inserted themselves into conflicts from Bosnia in the west to the Philippines in the east. Foreign fighters matter because they can affect the conflicts they join, as they did in post-2003 Iraq by promoting sectarian violence and indiscriminate tactics. Perhaps more important, foreign fighter mobilizations empower transnational terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, because volunteering for war is the principal stepping-stone for individual involvement in more extreme forms of militancy. For example, when Muslims in the West radicalize, they usually do not plot attacks in their home country right away, but travel to a war zone such as Iraq or Afghanistan first. Indeed, a majority of al-Qaida operatives began their militant careers as war volunteers, and most transnational jihadi groups today are by-products of foreign fighter mobilizations. Foreign fighters are therefore key to understanding transnational Islamist militancy.
  • Topic: Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq