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  • Author: Heidi Peltier
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: Throughout the 18 years the U.S. has been engaged in the “Global War on Terror,” mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan, the government has financed this war by borrowing funds rather than through alternative means such as raising taxes or issuing war bonds. Thus, the costs of the post-9/11 wars include not only the expenses incurred for operations, equipment, and personnel, but also the interest costs on this debt. Since 2001 these interest payments have been growing, resulting in more and more taxpayer dollars being wasted on interest payments rather than being channeled to more productive uses. This paper calculates that the debt incurred for $2 trillion in direct war-related spending by the Department of Defense and State Department has already resulted in cumulative interest payments of $925 billion. Even if military interventions ceased immediately, interest payments would continue to rise, and will grow further as the U.S. continues its current military operations.
  • Topic: Debt, War, Military Spending, 9/11
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Zainab Saleh
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: For decades, U.S. policy actions towards Iraq have had devastating consequences for the Iraqi people. This paper situates the U.S. “war on terrorism” in Iraq since 2003 within a longer trajectory of U.S. intervention in that country since the 1960s and shows that we can only understand the full human costs of current interventions when we see them in broader historical context. The author, Zainab Saleh, an assistant professor of anthropology at Haverford College, was born in Iraq and lived there until 1997. Later, she conducted ethnographic research with Iraqis who had migrated to London since the late 1970s. The Iraqis she knew and met felt they were pawns at the mercy of global powers. When the U.S. invaded Iraq and brought down Hussein in 2003, Iraqis saw the United States' true motive as continuing a well-established pattern of pursuing U.S. economic interests in the region. Since the 1960s, Iraqi arms purchases have bolstered American military-industrial corporations and stable access to Middle East oil has secured U.S. dominance in the global economy. The paper tells the story of one Iraqi woman, Rasha, who was forced by the violence in her country to flee to London. Rasha’s displacement and her family’s history of dispossession – her father imprisoned, her family impoverished, friends murdered and her own life threatened – show the deep human effects of decades of U.S. intervention. In 1963, under pretext of protecting the region from a communist threat, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency backed a coup by the Arab nationalist Ba‘th party after Iraq nationalized most of its oil fields. During the 1980s, the United States supported Saddam Hussein’s regime and prolonged the Iran-Iraq War in order to safeguard its national interests in the region, including weakening Iran to prevent it from posing a threat to U.S. power. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, U.S. policy shifted from alignment to “dual containment” of Iraq and Iran, a posture which culminated in the Gulf War of 1991 to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. In the 1990s, the United States justified its imposition of economic sanctions by claiming a goal of disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and protecting allies. In 2003, the U.S. packaged its invasion of Iraq as delivering U.S. values—namely, freedom and democracy—to the Iraqi people. Saleh writes, “The imperial encounter between Iraq and the United States has made life deeply precarious for Iraqis. For decades, they have lived with fear for their own and their family’s lives, the loss of loved ones and homeland, the realities of economic hardship, and the destruction of the fabric of their social lives.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, History, Counter-terrorism, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Alberto Gasparetto
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN)
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on Turkey’s foreign policymakers’ attitudes in the context of the 2003 US decision to wage war against Iraq. The main goal is to assess and downplay the impact of religion in relation to security-related concerns. Drawing on official speeches, interviews, declarations by key figures in the foreign policy process, the paper argues that religion is nothing more than an intervening factor in the case of Turkey’s approach to the 2003 war in Iraq. Therefore, notwithstanding the role of Islamist elites in the foreign policy decision-making of Turkey, Turkey’s foreign affairs were rather inspired by realist behaviour, driven by pragmatic considerations, aimed at pursuing rationalist goals.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, War, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dr. Robert J. Bunker
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: This monograph focuses on an understudied, but yet a critically important and timely component of land warfare, related to the battlefield use of chemical weapons by contemporary threat forces. It will do so by focusing on two case studies related to chemical weapons use in Syria and Iraq by the Assad regime and the Islamic State. Initially, the monograph provides an overview of the chemical warfare capabilities of these two entities; discusses selected incidents of chemical weapons use each has perpetrated; provides analysis and lessons learned concerning these chemical weapons incidents, their programs, and the capabilities of the Assad regime and the Islamic State; and then presents U.S. Army policy and planning considerations on this topical areas of focus. Ultimately, such considerations must be considered vis-à-vis U.S. Army support of Joint Force implementation of National Command Authority guidance.
  • Topic: War, Islamic State, Conflict, Syrian War, Army, Chemical Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Joel D. Rayburn, Frank K. Sobchak, Jeanne F. Godfroy, Matthew D. Morton, James S. Powell, Matthew M. Zais
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Originally commissioned by Chief of Staff of the Army General Raymond T. Odierno, The U.S. Army in the Iraq War is the Army’s interim examination of military operations in Iraq from 2003 to 2011. This study, published in two volumes, is a narrative history that tells the story of U.S. forces in Iraq, mainly from the perspective of the theater command in Baghdad and the operational commands immediately subordinate to it. It focuses at the operational level of war, exploring the decisions and intent of the senior three- and four-star commanders and how these decisions effected the course of the war over time. This work was built from over 30,000 pages of previously unavailable declassified documents and hundreds of hours of interviews with senior defense leaders. While the Army will eventually publish a comprehensive, official “Green Book” history that describes Operation Iraqi Freedom in greater depth, this study is being released now in order that key lessons, insights, and innovations from this period of the conflict are available to the next generation of Soldiers and leaders to study, learn from, and adapt to ensure the future readiness of our Army and the Joint Force.
  • Topic: War, History, Military Affairs, Army, Iraq War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Joel D. Rayburn, Frank K. Sobchak
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The Iraq War has been the costliest U.S. conflict since the Vietnam War. To date, few official studies have been conducted to review what happened, why it happened, and what lessons should be drawn. The U.S. Army in the Iraq War is the Army’s initial operational level analysis of this conflict, written in narrative format, with assessments and lessons embedded throughout the work. This study reviews the conflict from a Landpower perspective and includes the contributions of coalition allies, the U.S. Marine Corps, and special operations forces. Presented principally from the point of view of the commanders in Baghdad, the narrative examines the interaction of the operational and strategic levels, as well as the creation of theater level strategy and its implementation at the tactical level. Volume 1 begins in the truce tent at Safwan Airfield in southern Iraq at the end of Operation DESERT STORM and briefly examines actions by U.S. and Iraqi forces during the interwar years. The narrative continues by examining the road to war, the initially successful invasion, and the rise of Iraqi insurgent groups before exploring the country’s slide toward civil war. This volume concludes with a review of the decision by the George W. Bush administration to “surge” additional forces to Iraq, placing the conduct of the “surge” and its aftermath in the second volume. This study was constructed over a span of 4 years and relied on nearly 30,000 pages of hand-picked declassified documents, hundreds of hours of original interviews, and thousands of hours of previously unavailable interviews. Original interviews conducted by the team included President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretaries of Defense Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and every theater commander for the war, among many others. With its release, this publication, The U.S. Army in the Iraq War, represents the U.S. Government’s longest and most detailed study of the Iraq conflict thus far.
  • Topic: Government, War, History, Conflict, Army, Iraq War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: I. Aytac Kadioglu
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN)
  • Abstract: Terrorist violence led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is one of the major issues of Turkey since the 1980s. This violence is based upon Kurdish ethnic identity aimed towards establishing an independent Kurdish state in Turkey’s southeast, northern Iraq, northern Syria and north-western Iran. Despite this aim, the terrorist campaign of the PKK predominantly targets security forces and civilians in Turkey. However, the existence of a terrorist group such a long time raises a question of the impact of external support on the formation and maintenance of the PKK. While Turkey has criticised constantly its southern neighbours on the PKK’s activities and tactics, the regional approaches have been largely neglected in the existing scholarly literature. This article aims to close this gap by focusing on the role played by Iraq, Iran and Syria in the PKK terrorism and Turkey’s counter-terrorism policies. The article argues that the major reasons for the unsuccessful result of Turkey’s effort to destroy the PKK were the approaches of ignorance of the PKK activities and the use of the group as a trump card by the three neighbours and insufficient policies to keep under control the regional dimension of the conflict. The article critically analyses historical relationships between these three states and Turkey to explore how the regional dimension has affected the resolution of this conflict.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War, Ethnicity, Conflict, State Sponsored Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States, its allies, and international organizations are just beginning to come to grips with the civil dimensions of "failed state" wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen. In each case, it is clear that the civil dimension of the war will ultimately be as important as the military one. Any meaningful form of "victory" requires far more than defeating the current extremist threat in military terms, and reaching some temporary compromise between the major factions that divide the country. The current insurgent and other security threats exist largely because of the deep divisions within the state, the past and current failures of the government to deal with such internal divisions, and the chronic failure to meet the economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation's population. In practical terms, these failures make a given host government, other contending factions, and competing outside powers as much of a threat to each nation’s stability and future as Islamic extremists and other hostile forces. Regardless of the scale of any defeat of extremists, the other internal tensions and divisions with each country also threaten to make any such “victory” a prelude to new forms of civil war, and/or an enduring failure to cope with security, stability, recovery, and development. Any real form of victory requires a different approach to stability operations and civil-military affairs. In each case, the country the U.S. is seeking to aid failed to make the necessary economic progress and reforms to meet the needs of its people – and sharply growing population – long before the fighting began. The growth of these problems over a period of decades helped trigger the sectarian, ethnic, and other divisions that made such states vulnerable to extremism and civil conflict, and made it impossible for the government to respond effectively to crises and wars.
  • Topic: Security, War, Fragile/Failed State, ISIS, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sundan
  • Author: Bryant Neal Viñas, Mitchell D. Silber, Brian Dodwell, Paul Cruickshank, Michael Knights, Audrey Alexander, Rebecca Turkington, Derek Henry Flood
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Seventeen years after 9/11, the threat posed by jihadi terrorist groups is in a state of flux. The demise of the Islamic State’s territorial ‘caliphate’ has demoralized some of its supporters and eroded some of the group’s ability to direct attacks in the West. But the Islamic State still has a large sympathizer base, a significant presence in Syria and Iraq, and dangerous nodes in other parts of the world. Meanwhile, al-Qa`ida and its network of affiliates and allies have grown in strength in some regions and could pivot back to international terror. Worryingly, both groups in the years to come may be able to draw on an ‘officer class’ of surviving foreign fighters who forged personal bonds in Syria and Iraq. In our cover article, Bryant Neal Viñas, the first American to be recruited into al-Qa`ida after 9/11, writes about his experiences for the first time in the hope that his case study sheds light on the foreign fighter issue. Viñas was convicted for his actions and recently completed his prison sentence. His article is co-authored by Mitchell Silber, who supervised analysis and investigation of his case at the NYPD Intelligence Division. During his time in the Afghan-Pakistan border region between 2007 and 2008, Viñas came into contact with a variety of jihadi groups, was trained by al-Qa`ida, and spent time with several of the group’s most senior figures. After his arrest, Viñas immediately started cooperating with U.S. authorities and contributed significantly to the near destruction of al-Qa`ida in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Our interview this month is with Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Drawing on extensive field reporting, Michael Knights documents how Houthi forces in Yemen metamorphosed in just five years from guerrilla war fighters into a powerful military entity capable of deploying medium-range ballistic missiles. His article provides a case study of how an ambitious militant group can capture and use a state’s arsenals and benefit from Iran’s support. Audrey Alexander and Rebecca Turkington find mounting evidence that women engaged in terrorism-related activity receive more lenient treatment by the criminal justice system than their male counterparts. Derek Flood reports on how the Islamic State’s cave and tunnel complexes in the Hamrin Mountains are helping it sustain insurgent attacks in northern Iraq.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, War, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Borders, 9/11, Houthis, Foreign Fighters
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Global Focus
  • Author: Neta C. Crawford
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: All told, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This tally of the counts and estimates of direct deaths caused by war violence does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011, which the US joined in August 2014.
  • Topic: War, Conflict, 9/11, War on Terror, Statistics, Transparency, Iraq War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, United States of America