The September 11 terrorist attacks marked a watershed moment for U.S. foreign policy, as the country sought to measure its response to an unprecedented assault from an emerging transnational threat. Ten years later, Washington continues to grapple with some of the fundamental policy questions that define the new security environment, including the war in Afghanistan, counterterrorism, homeland security, civil liberties, and immigration. The following materials provide expert analysis and essential background on some of these central issues facing U.S. policymakers. [Also see CFR's video series: "9/11 Perspectives."]
As concerns grow over Afghanistan's ability to govern, USAID's J. Alexander Thier discusses development successes and challenges, singling out infrastructure and energy as critical areas for investment.
This CFR Independent Task Force report supports the U.S. investment in a long-term partnership with Pakistan, but stresses it is only sustainable if Islamabad acts against all terrorist organizations on its soil. In Afghanistan, the United States should encourage political reform, national reconciliation, and regional diplomacy.
Afghanistan expert Thomas Barfield writes that the United States should deemphasize Afghanistan's ethnic fault lines and push for more devolved and inclusive governance.
Since taking office, the Obama administration has ramped up the U.S. drone program in Pakistan. But unless the drone strikes become more transparent and are transferred from CIA to military control, they won't help Washington win the larger war, write Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann.
This interactive timeline examines the events that precipitated the U.S. war in Afghanistan as well as the history of the conflict.
U.S. strategy in Afghanistan should be in line with the Obama administration's political goals of defeating al-Qaeda rather than devoting resources to long-term nation building, says CFR's Gian Gentile.
Examine the roots of Pakistan's challenges, what it means for the region and the world, and explore some plausible futures for the country in this award-winning CFR Crisis Guide.
Domestic politics still clashes with strategic imperatives in U.S. Afghan policy, writes CFR's Stephen Biddle. This makes it hard for U.S. authorities to press for crucial reforms in Kabul. The more Americans talk about withdrawal dates "rather than outcomes on the ground, the more Afghans and Pakistanis are encouraged to hedge," he writes.
This Policy Innovation Memo by CFR's Daniel Markey argues that the United States should move quickly to convert the post-bin Laden crisis into an opportunity for significant reform of Pakistan's security and intelligence services.
Pakistan has emerged as a terrorist sanctuary for some of the world's most violent groups--including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and homegrown militants--that threaten the stability of Pakistan and the region.
CFR's Ed Husain says that a decade after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the need for Islam to come to terms with modernity is greater than ever.
This monitor finds that counterterrorism efforts worldwide are still insufficient and uncoordinated, and offers options for strengthening the global counterterrorism regime, such as building capacity in developing countries, supporting international technological and law enforcement cooperation, strengthening nuclear security, and more.
This issue brief takes a broad-sweeping look at international efforts to combat terrorism. This is part of the CFR Global Governance Monitor, an interactive feature tracking multilateral approaches to several global challenges.
Ten years after 9/11, there is still no durable framework for effectively securing the United States against terrorism while also upholding its values. This Working Paper by Daniel B. Prieto calls on President Obama and Congress to engage these issues in a bipartisan fashion and craft comprehensive long-term counterterrorism policies.
Richard N. Haass argues that 9/11 was a terrible tragedy by any measure, but it was not a historical turning point that heralded a new era of international relations in which terrorists with a global agenda prevailed, or in which such spectacular terrorist attacks became commonplace.
Osama bin Laden's death is a blow to al-Qaeda, and its stature in the Middle East is already diminished by the pro-democracy movements in the region, but the group remains lethal. Seven CFR experts discuss.
The international terrorist network that the United States has singled out as the most serious threat to U.S. national security is weakened but still lethal.
On 9/11, the global jihadist movement burst into the world's consciousness, but a decade later, thanks in part to the Arab Spring and the killing of Osama bin Laden, it is in crisis, writes analyst William McCants.
The 9/11 attacks did not fundamentally change U.S. foreign policy, writes historian Melvyn P. Leffler. A quest for primacy and military supremacy, a readiness to act proactively and unilaterally, and a focus on democracy and free markets are longstanding features of U.S. policy.
CFR's Kay King offers recommendations to reset congressional rules, practices, and procedures to address today's dysfunctional Congress and restore it as a full partner to the executive branch in advancing U.S. national security interests.
This Contingency Planning Memo by CFR's Daniel Markey examines the factors that would condition India's response to another major terrorist attack by Pakistan-based terrorist organizations, and the consequences for Washington of military retaliation and the Pakistani response.
Within days of the 9/11 attacks, Congress authorized U.S. military and intelligence agencies to kill and detain terrorists. It is time to revise that authority on matters like detentions and drone attacks, says CFR's John B. Bellinger III.
Classified military documents leaked by WikiLeaks suggest the Obama administration's changes to Guantanamo policy can't improve a system that was flawed from the beginning, says international law expert Karen Greenberg, who argues that better risk assessments of prisoners are needed.
With the March 2011 executive order on Guantanamo, President Obama acknowledged that the controversial detention center will remain open for some time, says CFR's Matthew Waxman, but provided improved protections and review processes.
President Obama vowed in January 2009 to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Two years later, the White House continues to face challenges to that promise, leaving critics to suggest the facility will remain open for the foreseeable future.
The State Department will likely push for WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange to be prosecuted under all available statutes, including the Espionage Act, says CFR's John B. Bellinger, who notes the releases harmed sources and foreign relations.
Which policies have worked and which ones need work ten years after the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history? CFR experts examine ten issues that have preoccupied U.S. planners.
The Muslim community has played an integral role in U.S. counterterrorism efforts, and congressional hearings on the radicalization of Muslims risk polarizing a considerable asset for law enforcement, says expert Mark Fallon.
Five experts address the controversy over the proposed Islamic center near the 9/11 attack site in New York, the foreign policy implications, and how the issue should be resolved.
This April 2011 CFR symposium brought together leading officials and experts from the United Kingdom and the United States to exchange best practices and develop fresh ideas for tackling Islamist radicalization.
An increase in terror incidents involving Islamic radicals who are U.S. citizens is vexing law enforcement officials and posing new questions about the roots of their radicalization.
Violent acts by homegrown militant extremists in the United States have declined, but "lone wolf" attacks are on the rise. The post-9/11 legal and political landscape poses new challenges to law enforcement authorities seeking to prevent such attacks.
Foreign governments, non-state actors, and criminal networks are targeting the digital networks of the United States with increasing frequency and sophistication. U.S. cybersecurity has made progress, but relies heavily on the private sector to secure infrastructure critical to national security.
Cybersecurity expert Robert Knake recommends the United States use international forums to promote mechanisms that address security concerns in cyberspace while ensuring the Internet remains open for the free exchange of ideas across national boundaries.
New screening measures at U.S. airports are being called overly intrusive by some passengers and civil rights groups. National security experts advise using a system that relies more on intelligence, behavioral profiling, and empowering passengers.
U.S. homeland security has failed to harness two vital aspects: civil society and the private sector, writes security expert Stephen Flynn.
This CFR Task Force report offers a strategy for maintaining America's political and economic leadership by attracting skilled immigrants, a program of legalization for those living in the United States illegally, and steps for securing the country's borders in an effective and humane way.
Washington claims that the country's borders are more secure than ever, but the truth is that no one knows for sure, writes CFR's Edward Alden. The U.S. government has never defined what border security actually means or how to measure it.
CFR's Edward Alden discusses how the United States' opaque system of visa checks undermines its ability to attract and retain skilled immigrants.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For more context on the 9/11 anniversary, download the new Foreign Affairs eBook, The U.S. vs. al-Qaeda.