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A spreading Islamic insurgency engulfs the amorphous and ungoverned border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. After initial victories by the United States and the Northern Alliance in autumn 2001, hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters fled Afghanistan to seek refuge across the border in Pakistan's rugged northwest. Since 2007, the number of ambushes, militant offensives, and targeted assassinations has risen sharply across Afghanistan, while suicide bombers and pro-Taliban insurgents sweep through settled areas of Pakistan at an alarming pace. For better and for worse, Pakistan will remain the fulcrum of U.S. policy in the region -- its leaders continue to provide vital counterterrorism cooperation and have received close to $20 billion in assistance from the United States, yet elements associated with its national intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, covertly assist militant proxy groups destabilizing the region.
Instead of "surging" into this volatile region, the United States must focus on limiting cross-border movement along the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier and supporting local Pakistani security forces with a small number of U.S. Special Forces personnel. To improve fighting capabilities and enhance cooperation, Washington and Islamabad must increase the number of Pakistani officers trained through the U.S. Department of Defense International Military Education and Training program. In addition, U.S. aid to Pakistan must be monitored more closely to ensure Pakistan's military does not divert U.S. assistance to the purchase of weapons systems that can be used against its chief rival, India. Most important, U.S. policymakers must stop embracing a single Pakistani leader or backing a single political party, as they unwisely did with Pervez Musharraf and the late Benazir Bhutto.
America's actions are not passively accepted by the majority of Pakistan's population, and officials in Islamabad cannot afford to be perceived as putting America's interests above those of their own people. Because the long-term success of this nuclear-armed Muslim-majority country depends on the public's repudiation of extremism, and our continued presence in Afghanistan is adding more fuel to violent religious radicalism, our mission in the region, as well as our tactics, our objectives, and our interests, must all be reexamined.
Open Society Institute;
Based on interviews with former detainees, documents abuses, including sensory/sleep deprivation, forced nudity, and exposure to excessive cold, at a Special Operations facility in 2007-10. Lists minimum steps needed to meet U.S. and international standar
Human Rights Center at University of California at Berkeley;
Based on interviews with former detainees held in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, attorneys, officials, and military personnel, details interrogation practices, conditions of incarceration, and their long-term effects. Urges a nonpartisan investigation.
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization celebrates its 60th birthday, there are mounting signs of trouble within the alliance and reasons to doubt the organization's relevance regarding the foreign policy challenges of the 21st century. Several developments contribute to those doubts.
Although NATO has added numerous new members during the past decade, most of them possess minuscule military capabilities. Some of them also have murky political systems and contentious relations with neighboring states, including (and most troubling) a nuclear-armed Russia. Thus, NATO's new members are weak, vulnerable, and provocative -- an especially dangerous combination for the United States in its role as NATO's leader.
There are also growing fissures in the alliance about how to deal with Russia. The older, West European powers tend to favor a cautious, conciliatory policy, whereas the Central and East European countries advocate a more confrontational, hard-line approach. The United States is caught in the middle of that intra-alliance squabble.
Perhaps most worrisome, the defense spending levels and military capabilities of NATO's principal European members have plunged in recent years. The decay of those military forces has reached the point that American leaders now worry that joint operations with U.S. forces are becoming difficult, if not impossible.The ineffectiveness of the European militaries is apparent in NATO's stumbling performance in Afghanistan.
NATO has outlived whatever usefulness it had. Superficially, it remains an impressive institution, but it has become a hollow shell -- far more a political honor society than a meaningful security organization. Yet, while the alliance exists, it is a vehicle for European countries to free ride on the U.S.military commitment instead of spending adequately on their own defenses and taking responsibility for the security of their own region. American calls for greater burden-sharing are even more futile today than they have been over the past 60 years. Until the United States changes the incentives by withdrawing its troops from Europe and phasing out its NATO commitment, the Europeans will happily continue to evade their responsibilities.
Today's NATO is a bad bargain for the United States. We have security obligations to countries that add little to our own military power. Even worse, some of those countries could easily entangle America in dangerous parochial disputes. It is time to terminate this increasingly dysfunctional alliance.
As Afghanistan now faces an uncertain political and security environment following the drawdown of ISAF troops at the end of 2014, the potential for a worsening narcotrafficking threat is great. The report states that the potential for deterioration "underscores the imperative need for Russian and U.S. policymakers to find the political will to resume and perhaps even increase cooperation despite ongoing differences on other issues. Together with regional partners and international organizations, renewed Russian-U.S. cooperation presents the best hope for a brighter future."
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP);
This report focuses on the relationship between women and natural resources in conflict-affected settings, and discusses how the management of natural resources can be used to enhance women's engagement and empowerment in peacebuilding processes. Part I of the report examines the relationship between women and natural resources in peacebuilding contexts, reviewing key issues across three main categories of resources: land, renewable and extractive resources. Part II discusses entry points for peacebuilding practitioners to address risks and opportunities related to women and natural resource management, focusing on political participation, protection and economic empowerment.
Council on Foreign Relations;
According to this new interactive guide, "as the international combat mission in Afghanistan closes, the Taliban threatens to destabilize the region, harbor terrorist groups with global ambitions, and set back human rights and economic development in the areas where it prevails." The infoguide includes an overview video featuring leading experts, a timeline tracing the Taliban's evolution, infographics, an interactive map, and teaching tips for educators.
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation;
Based on interviews with Afghanistan's business and economic stakeholders about developing the country's private sector, outlines obstacles to business growth, including security, corruption, and infrastructure; their implications; and recommendations.
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation;
Summarizes panel discussions at a May 2010 conference on past economic development efforts in post-war areas, current debates over Iraq and Afghanistan, and how to incorporate "expeditionary economics" into future stabilization and reconstruction efforts.
Women for Afghan Women;
This Ten-Year Report tells the story of Women for Afghan Women: our organizational journey over the past decade woven together with world events that affect women's rights in Afghanistan, the personal journeys of the women who lead the organization, and the inspirational stories of courageous women and girls whose lives have been transformed by our work.
The Constitution Project's blue-ribbon Task Force on Detainee Treatment is made up of former high-ranking officials with distinguished careers in the judiciary, Congress, the diplomatic service, law enforcement, the military, and other parts of the executive branch, as well as recognized experts in law, medicine and ethics. The group includes conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats. The Task Force was charged with providing the American people with a broad understanding of what is known -- and what may still be unknown -- about the past and current treatment of suspected terrorists detained by the U.S. government during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.
This report is the product of more than two years of research, analysis and deliberation by the Task Force members and staff. It is based on a thorough examination of available public records and interviews with more than 100 people, including former detainees, military and intelligence officers, interrogators and policymakers. It is a comprehensive record of detainee treatment across multiple administrations and multiple geographic theatres -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo and the so-called "black sites" -- yet published.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;
In previous annual letters, Gates focused on the power of innovation to reduce hunger, poverty, and disease. But any innovation -- whether it's a new vaccine or an improved seed -- can't have an impact unless it reaches the people who will benefit from it. That's why in this year's letter, Gates discusses how innovations in measurement are critical to finding new, effective ways to deliver these tools and services to the clinics, family farms, and classrooms that need them.
The Foundation is supporting these efforts, but more needs to be done. Given how tight budgets are around the world, governments are rightfully demanding effectiveness in the programs they pay for. To address these demands, we need better measurement tools to determine which approaches work and which do not.
In this letter, Gates highlights strong examples from the past year of how measurement is making a difference. In Colorado, Melinda and Bill learned how a school district is pioneering a new system to measure and promote teacher effectiveness. In Ethiopia, Gates witnessed how a poor country, pursuing goals set by the United Nations, delivered better health services to its people. In Nigeria, the digital revolution has allowed the foundation to improve the use of measurement in the campaign to eradicate polio. Thanks to cell phones, satellites, and cheap sensors, data can be gathered and organized with increasing speed and accuracy.