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  • Afghanistan, China, and Indo-Pacific: Significant Challenges in the Indo-Pacific

    With the current situation in Afghanistan unfolding faster than one can blink an eye, many have speculated that the Taliban’s seeming victory will be a confidence booster to multiple separatist and terror groups around the world, most notably to Southeast Asia and South Asia. The withdrawal also begs the question of whether US allies can rely on Washington for support in the face of China's aggression.

  • The Fall of Afghanistan: The Fault Lines and the Future

    The events that unfolded on 15 August in Afghanistan are an indicator of the fragile nature of the security environment in the landlocked country. The fall of Kabul and the subsequent transfer of power to the Taliban were a reminder of how unpredictability and uncertainty are the central characteristic of the Afghan quagmire. Amid the takeover of Kabul, it becomes necessary to investigate where the fault lines lie and what the future and outcome of the National Resistance Front (NRF) and Taliban negotiations might be.

  • The Afghan Conundrum: Taliban’s Takeover and the Way Forward

    With the declaration of the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, regional countries are debating their way forward to either recognizing the Taliban-led government or not. For the United States, the situation is rather challenging, as aside from the tough questions over the rationality of the “Forever War” and poorly managed withdrawal strategy by the Biden administration, Washington confronts a harder choice about the Taliban as well as how to manage the evacuation of American citizens and allies from Kabul.

  • The Rise of Taliban and Its Security Implications

    With the Taliban’s return to power, nontraditional security threats—ranging from illicit drug trafficking to the revival of terrorist safe havens—will be major issues of concern.

  • Emerging Myths About the Afghanistan War

    Perhaps the toughest part of the post–Afghanistan War era will be an honest accounting of its implications. Two narratives are fast-emerging about the American pullout and the collapse of the Islamic Republic—yet after a cursory examination these narratives are closer to myth than reality.

  • Understanding China in Taliban-led Afghanistan

    China’s road ahead with Taliban-led Afghanistan will not be easy. Since the Taliban’s victory is already a fait accompli, recognition of its legitimacy by the international community will eventually follow. Until then, China will be among the only countries to recognize Taliban leadership. What does that mean for Beijing and other powers in the region?

  • Out of Afghanistan: A Realist View

    However, there is another way to look at the Taliban victory. If one puts to one side the frame of liberal internationalism (which, after all, was an artifact of the post–Cold War unipolar moment) and adopts instead that of “great-power competition,” or GPC (which more accurately reflects the current geopolitical environment), concerns about the loss of Afghanistan to the forces of illiberalism quickly fade. And, as those concerns fade, a new picture comes into focus—one in which America’s great-power competitors, Russia and China, are forced to deal with a rapidly deteriorating situation in a region that both consider of vital importance to their security and broader geopolitical interests. However, what, specifically, does this new strategic picture look like? How should we think about the fall of Afghanistan in the context of post-unipolar moment world—a world in which great powers like the United States, China, and Russia vie with each other for power and influence?

  • Not Just Regarding Afghanistan: Dangerous Assumptions, Cultural (In)competence—and Weak Reflexivity

    That the West could build a state and military in its own image, from the outside-in and from the top-down, without an adequate—much less a deep—understanding of Afghan society and culture was a dangerous assumption. One might say this notion represents our most fundamental error, generative of many missteps. Perhaps the earliest strategic failure in Afghanistan was the distracting invasion of Iraq in 2003, a campaign that also suffered from a similar set of fundamental, faulty assumptions. Iraq was yet another intervention with no real planning it seems for the aftermath—for all the social and political variables that must be considered to mitigate chaos and prevent prolonged conflict. Just design the exquisite air and ground campaigns, shock and awe, and rebuild the infrastructure, re-engineer the society itself with our models as templates. There seems to be a pattern, a way of thinking, so deeply embedded one might call it cultural, upon which we need to reflect.

  • Afghan Crisis: A Harbinger of Instability in South Asia

    After two decades, the Taliban returned to power through brute force. Chaos and fear engulfed the city of Kabul and surrounding areas, with tens of thousands of people stuck and trying to escape harm’s way. The collapse of Afghanistan left the Afghan people in distress and servitude under the Taliban's rule. The Afghanistan crisis threatens to embroil the entire region with chaos and mayhem. The question then arises: how will the Taliban’s return to power impact the rest of South Asia?

  • The Fall of Afghanistan

    The current state of Afghanistan is an illusion of Western diplomacy, a conflagration of religious and ethnic groups unwillingly forced together in formation of a “nation” as the United Nations and the predominant powers within prefer to establish a world on a rules-based order. As a country, in its current form, it is not the end of 20 years at war but instead the continuation of a century of conflict with the West, first colonized by the British and then falling under the incompetent tutelage of Soviet meddlers. This latest episode of conflict comes at the tail-end of a millennium of invasion, conquest, subjugation, and submission to foreign powers and ambitious leaders beginning with the likes of Darius I of Persia and Alexander the Great of Macedonia. In short, Afghanistan possesses a history of conflict the United States cannot even imagine, and yet, for Afghans today, the current state is nothing new in their history.

  • Managerial Technicalism: The Evolving Nature of Canadian Decision Making in the Afghanistan War, 2001–2014

    Canada’s obligation to its allies and to the Afghan people evolved in several distinct phases. To bureaucrats and governmental apparatchiks, each phase came with its own goals, opportunities, and difficulties and were seen as natural responses to the commensurate threats facing the mission in Afghanistan. To the public, poor communication and divides in regional attitudes turned the populace’s perception of the conflict into an ungainly and unending military morass. From the wider strategic perspective, Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan must be viewed through the lens of the American unipolar moment at its imperious zenith, facilitating an international superstructure that permitted and encouraged such an outsized Canadian contribution.

  • Lassoing the Haboob: Countering Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin in Mali, Part II

    This piece provides two strategic recommendations, both of which are inspired by lessons learned from US and international actions in Afghanistan. I argue that by developing policy based on the successes and failures of international efforts in the Middle East and South Asia, the international community might be able to ensure that the situation in Mali does not follow a similar path.
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