With President Barack Obama’s announcement last week that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of this year, most Americans breathed a sigh of relief. Lost in those headlines was the collective shudder of national security experts and practitioners who know Washington’s dirty little secret: More than 10 years after the war against violent extremism began, the United States still lacks true deployable civilian power. The handover in Iraq from the Defense Department to the State Department at the end of this year will showcase this Achilles’ heel, one that will haunt U.S. foreign policy until […]

Since 2001, Afghanistan has become synonymous with the term “narcostate” and the associated spread of crime and illegality. Though the Afghan drug economy peaked in 2007 and 2008, cultivation this year still amounted to 325,000 acres, and the potential production of opium reached 6,400 tons (.pdf). Narcotics production and counternarcotics policies in Afghanistan are of critical importance not only for drug control there and worldwide, but also for the security, reconstruction and rule of law efforts in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, many of the counternarcotics policies adopted during most of the past decade not only failed to reduce the size and scope […]

As part of a “big think” forecast project commissioned by an intelligence community sponsor, I’ve begun to think about the future geography of global security. As often with this kind of project, I find myself falling into list-making mode as I contemplate slides for the brief. So here are nine big structural issues that I think any such presentation must include – Regional integration in East Asia depends on an American security presence. Virtually every country in East Asia is realistically planning for eventual absorption into a regional economic scheme structured around behemoth China, while quietly scheming to balance that […]

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An unfortunate legacy of America’s “sole superpower” status is the tendency to over-emphasize Washington’s agency in shaping the global environment and downplay the role of others. For instance, the Obama administration deserves a great deal of credit in changing the tone of the U.S.-Russia relationship. But also critical to the reset’s success were Ukraine’s 2010 presidential election, which took that country off the European geopolitical chessboard, and the ongoing instability in Pakistan, which made the Northern Distribution Network more vital to supplying the military mission in Afghanistan. It may sound like a truism, but it is one that U.S. policymakers […]

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered an important policy address on what she called “economic statecraft.” In it, she announced that the United States will update its foreign policy priorities to include economic considerations, arguing that doing so will strengthen both our standing abroad and our economy at home. Among other measures, Clinton said that the State Department will do more to help U.S. companies compete for opportunities in emerging markets, including advocating for them and working to level the playing field between private companies operating on market principles and state-owned companies pursuing strategic goals. Clinton is […]

In her WPR column yesterday, Frida Ghitis noted that the global chessboard is being “reset” as countries re-examine longstanding partnerships and alliances, both formal and informal, in the face of broad geopolitical changes taking place today. “As a result,” wrote Ghitis, “the coming months and years will bring about a recasting of important strategic links, some of which have been part of the global landscape for decades.” The evidence of this transformation can be found across the Middle East and South Asia, as a result of the Arab uprisings, but also due to the Afghanistan War, which has strained U.S. […]

Recent developments in South America have upended the United States’ historical — and often misguided — tendency to lump the region into a one-size-fits-all policy. A politically and economically muscular Brazil, the rise of an anti-American bloc of countries led by Venezuela, and the emergence of economic and even political extraregional rivals in the hemisphere have created a more diverse, independent and contentious region for the United States. At the same time, the looming shadow of a double-dip U.S. recession and the spectacle of partisan intransigence leaving Washington paralyzed have led to an overwhelming impression across the region that the […]

The recent U.S. claims that Pakistan’s intelligence service have aided attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan; the discovery that Osama bin Laden had been living for years in a safe house in central Pakistan; the U.S. special forces operation to attack his Pakistani compound without notifying Pakistani authorities; the disputes over U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani territory: These and other controversies are surface manifestations of a deeper “trust deficit” between the United States and Pakistan. On Sept. 22, then-Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen made explosive comments about the nature of the relationship between Pakistan’s […]

With instability rising in Afghanistan, U.S. power in the region approaching its apex and Pakistan appearing increasingly hostile, this World Politics Review special report examines the Afghanistan War through articles published in the past year. Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Subscribers can also download a .pdf version of this report. Not a subscriber? Purchase this report on Kindle or as a .pdf from Scribd. Or subscribe now. U.S. Strategy Obama’s Fragile Afghanistan Strategy By Nikolas Gvosdev January 14, 2011 Long-Term U.S. Presence in Afghanistan a Mistake By Thomas P.M. […]