Defense and Security

Must Read

New Yorker: The Syrian War's Private Donors Lose Faith

Author: Elizabeth Dickinson

"Since the Syrian revolution began, in 2011, private Kuwaiti donors like Herbash have been among its most generous patrons, providing what likely amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars to the armed opponents of Assad…. As the war took a more sectarian and extremist turn, so, too, did its private funders."

See more in Syria; Wars and Warfare

Op-Ed

Uniform Fix

Author: Micah Zenko
ForeignPolicy.com

"This habit of policymakers exalting the military as exemplars of accomplishment—in effect, asking generals and admirals to "save us from ourselves"—should be brought to a dignified end," writes Micah Zenko.

See more in United States; Military Leadership

Must Read

New America Foundation: Do NSA's Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?

Authors: Peter Lampert Bergen, David Sterman, Emily Schneider, and Bailey Cahall

"Surveillance of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity, such as fundraising for a terrorist group.... The overall problem for U.S. counterterrorism officials is not that they need vaster amounts of information from the bulk surveillance programs, but that they don't sufficiently understand or widely share the information they already possess that was derived from conventional law enforcement and intelligence techniques."

See more in United States; Defense and Security

Must Read

Harper's Magazine: The Pious Spy: A Taliban Intelligence Chief's Death and Resurrection

Author: Mujib Mashal

"Perhaps Ahmadullah no longer feels that his life is at risk. Unlike al-Qaeda, the Taliban have emerged from the past decade remarkably unscathed. Many of the group's leaders have vanished into tribal areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and others live in urban areas—such as Quetta and Karachi—where U.S. drones could not reasonably operate. Still, if Ahmadullah who is no older than forty-seven, has any hope of playing a role in Afghanistan's future, he will have to emerge at some point from 'under the grave.'"

See more in Afghanistan; Intelligence

Must Read

New Yorker: The Al Qaeda Switchboard

Author: Lawrence Wright

"Yes, the F.B.I. could have stopped 9/11. It had a warrant to establish surveillance of everyone connected to Al Qaeda in America. It could follow them, tap their phones, clone their computers, read their e-mails, and subpoena their medical, bank, and credit-card records. It had the right to demand records from telephone companies of any calls they had made. There was no need for a metadata-collection program. What was needed was coöperation with other federal agencies, but for reasons both petty and obscure those agencies chose to hide vital clues from the investigators most likely to avert the attacks."

See more in United States; Defense and Security

Must Read

Monkey Cage: How Hard Is it to Win Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan? Very Hard.

Author: Jason Lyall

"While a key policy takeaway—avoid civilian casualties—seems obvious, even taking great pains to minimize civilian suffering is no guarantee that civilians can be won over. Cognitive biases that predispose individuals to favor (or excuse) the actions of their fellow in-group members, while simultaneously using negative actions by the out-group (like ISAF) to confirm prior prejudices, are powerful frameworks not easily overcome during wartime. Without engaging these underlying psychological biases, however, efforts to win hearts and minds are likely to be expensive, protracted, and, in the end, fleeting."

See more in Afghanistan; Defense and Security

Primary Sources

UN Invitation to Geneva II

The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces leaked this United Nations invitation sent to opposition President Ahmad Jarba requesting his attendence at the Geneva II meetings on January 22 to 24, 2014. The letter explains the priniciples and rules of the conference for officials addressing the conflict in Syria.

See more in Syria; Treaties and Agreements; Wars and Warfare

Primary Sources

Northern Ireland Executive Proposed Agreement

Between July 2013 and December 2013, Dr. Richard Haass led peace process negotiations on how five political parties in Northern Ireland commemorate historical events related to regional conflict. The conflict, sometimes called The Troubles, began in the 1960s regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and its two main communities; the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 addressed some of these issues.

See more in Ireland; Territorial Disputes; Political Movements and Protests