NEW DELHI — With the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) decimated in the northern provinces of Sri Lanka, India is now seeking greater involvement in the welfare of the Tamils in the island country. New Delhi is looking to supply electricity, rehabilitate and resettle displaced Tamils, and rebuild infrastructure in general. And this month, Rahul Gandhi, the general secretary of the ruling Congress party and son of the all-powerful Sonia Gandhi, emphasized that India will do everything in its power to protect the rights of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka. “The central government is applying as much pressure […]

This WPR special report on the Afghanistan war compiles news, analysis and opinion from WPR’s pages to provide insight into the situation on the ground, as well as the strategic questions faced by U.S. and coalition policymakers. Contributors to the report include, Spencer Ackerman, David Axe, Andrew Bast, Andrew Exum, Joshua Foust, Judah Grunstein, Seth Rosen, Vikram Singh, Hampton Stephens, Balint Szlanko, and Richard Weitz. Below are links to each article, which subscribers can read in full. Subscribers can also download a pdf version of the report. Not a subscriber? Subscribe now, or try our subscription service for free. Abu […]

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Everywhere in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, posters featuring smiling soldiers holding rocket launchers and machine guns celebrate the recent end to the nation’s 26-year civil war. But in the government-run camps that still house more than 250,000 ethnic Tamils displaced by the war’s fighting, the mood is far from celebratory. In late August, heavy rains at the largest camp, Manik, flooded tents and led to unsanitary conditions. According to aid worker K Thampu, “The situation was heartbreaking. Tents were flooded and mothers, desperate to keep their children dry during the night, took chairs and […]

The armored truck came apart in a puff of smoke and debris. It was Aug. 20, election day in Wardak province, Afghanistan, southwest of Kabul. U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan had braced for increased levels of violence on this day. But the massive bomb — constructed of a plastic barrel with a nitrate fertilizer filler — that struck the American truck was more than anyone expected. Of the two U.S. Army soldiers riding in the front of the vehicle when the bomb struck, one was seriously injured. Specialist Justin Pellerin, 21, the driver, died instantly. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are taking […]

Rajiv Chandrasekaran on Obama’s Afghanistan Policy

The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran says Obama is considering a”pretty significant shift in policy” on Afghanistan, from acomprehensive counterinsurgency and nation-buiilding campaign to a muchmore narrowed mission focused on counterterrorism. The fraudulentAfghanistan elections are at least one major factor in precipitatingthis change from March, when the White House promulgated a much moreexpansive Afghanistan strategy.

Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram’s four-day visit to the United States earlier this month helped take India-U.S. ties to a higher level in the vital areas of counterterrorism and intelligence-sharing. But it also spotlighted a few related security issues that have been left unaddressed. Cooperation between India and the U.S. in the fields of defense and security is one of the key pillars of bilateral ties identified by the Obama administration and reinforced during U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s India visit in July. Chidambaram’s visit, too, was a continuation of the same dialogue, focusing on an assessment of South […]

The Afghanistan Strategic Review

Amid signs that President Barack Obama is reconsidering first principles in Afghanistan, the Washington Post has published a redacted version of the strategic review conducted by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Most of its principle elements have already emerged since July, but to see them finally gathered and presented in a coherent draft helps clarify the assessment of where things stand. Curiously, I was most impressed and encouraged by the discussion of the Afghan insurgency’s strengths (pp. 2-5/2-8). I found myself thinking that, despite all of the insurgency’s recent advances, our understanding of its various strands, how they overlap, and their lines […]

Senate Afghanistan Hearing

Spencer Ackerman’s rundown of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan is well worth a read. Rory Stewart, John Nagl and Stephen Biddle gave testimony. The result is a very informative confrontation between three very different and articulate perspectives of that war. As Ackerman observes, it’s something of a rarity to see informative debate in the Senate.

Training the Afghan Army

Most accounts I’ve read of the Afghan security forces have made the distinction between the Afghan army, usually described as needing a lot of improvement but competent and on the right track, and the Afghan police, always described as a disastrous combination of incompetence and corruption. That was at least partly reassuring, since the transfer of security operations to indigenous Afghan forces is a major component of both U.S. COIN doctrine and most optimistic assessments of a long-term (read: politically palatable) U.S. nation-building mission in Afghanistan. Recently, there’s been a bit of online discussion about why training the Afghan army […]

There is an important element missing in the extensive coverage of Afghanistan: multilateral diplomacy. The Obama administration has been correct to emphasize the stakes for Pakistan in Afghanistan and, by extension, the seriousness with which the U.S. takes Pakistan’s stability. But it has begun to sound like Afghanistan has only one border, and only one important neighbor. So far, the administration and the media’s portrait has oversimplified the nature of the Taliban insurgency, defining it as essentially an extension of the fragility of the Pakistani state and political system. In truth, Pakistan is probably more stable than it looks, however […]

Eight years ago, a small number of U.S. personnel, working in tandem with local Afghan leaders, entered Afghanistan with a defined aim: to punish al-Qaida and overthrow the Taliban regime that harbored them. Over the past year, that mission has morphed into the much broader objective of rebuilding the Afghan state and protecting Afghan villages. Most recently, America’s top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said a new strategy must be forged to “earn the support of the [Afghan] people . . . regardless of how many militants are killed or captured.” Such an undertaking, amounting to a large-scale social-engineering […]

While transnational illicit flows of people, goods and technology are not a new phenomenon, it has been widely recognized that the volume of these flows has increased dramatically in the globalizing era that has followed the end of the Cold War. This increase has largely been a result of the technical innovations associated with globalization, combined with the popularization of “free trade” ideals. Simply put, the sheer volume of international trade has meant that even states of the developed world increasingly cannot control their borders. What effect has this increase in illicit flows had on states and their power in […]

A Moment of Clarity in Afghanistan

Two news items from Afghanistan made quite an impact yesterday, offering a moment of clarity in what had become a largely theoretical debate over both tactics and strategy. The first is the increasing certainty that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s election victory will not withstand the taint of widespread voting fraud. The second is a riveting account from Jonathan Landay of an extended firefight between Afghan Army troops supported by embedded U.S. Marine trainers and Taliban insurgents. With regards to the election, while fraud is almost inevitable in such a context, the problem arises both from what turnout revealed about popular […]

Pakistan, Iran and the ‘Saudi Bomb’

One circle I’ve yet to see squared is why Pakistan would share its nuclear technology — both uranium enrichment and weaponization — with Iran, when that technology is widely believed to have been financed, in part, by the Saudis? Indeed, rumors of an already done Pakistan-Saudi deal for the purchase of warheads in the event Iran achieves nuclear weapon status are so widespread that the Pakistani capacity is often referred to as the “Saudi bomb.” Pakistan’s claims that AQ Khan was a solo rogue operator were greeted with huge skepticism. And Khan — who, as a scapegoat with an axe […]

BERLIN — The German public and many left-leaning members of parliament have expressed shock and anger over Germany’s role in an airstrike in Afghanistan last week that killed an as-yet-undetermined number of Afghan civilians. The airstrike on two hijacked gas tankers was called in by a German commander in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province, reportedly based on grainy video footage and the assurance of just one on-the-ground informant that those surrounding the trucks were all Taliban insurgents. The German people, deeply pacifist since the end of World War II, are largely opposed to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, as well as Germany’s […]

The Taliban is running out of money. That was the conclusion some observers reached when the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime reported last week that Afghanistan’s poppy crop is down nearly a quarter compared to last year. But other experts caution against declaring financial victory. If anything, the behind-the-scenes campaigns to dry up Taliban funding are only now catching up to the extremist group’s sophisticated financial operations. Poppies, the basic ingredient in opium, represent Afghanistan’s biggest export — albeit an illegal one. They “fund the activities of criminals, insurgents and terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere,” according to the UNODC […]

The U.S. is determined to implement a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, and one of the most important concepts of counterinsurgency is securing the people: Insurgents and counterinsurgents alike must appeal to the people they’re fighting amongst in order to deny the other popular support. But what does it mean to “secure the people” of Afghanistan? Some of the U.S. government’s best thinkers about defense policy and counterinsurgency, many of whom cut their teeth on the urban battlefields of Iraq, have finally begun to consider this question. But although Iraq is vastly different from Afghanistan, there seems to be no end […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 231 2 Last