Although the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are far from the costliest the United States has ever fought in terms of either blood or treasure, they have exacted a much greater toll than the relatively bloodless wars Americans had gotten used to fighting in the 1990s.
On May 24, 2014, a man opened fire inside the Jewish Museum in Brussels, quickly killing three people and fatally wounding a fourth before disappearing into the city’s streets. The alleged perpetrator, a French citizen named Mehdi Nemmouche, who has since been arrested and charged with murder, had spent the previous year fighting with jihadist opposition groups in Syria.
The Senate Intelligence Committee began investigating the use of torture by the CIA to obtain information from detainees about terrorist plots. Their study was completed in December 2012 and was released December 9, 2014, after the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee debated how much information should be released. The CIA released its redacted June 2013 response to the study and the Director of the CIA John Brennan gave a new statement on December 9, 2014. The CIA also prepared a fact sheet on the history of the program and its responses to the Senate Intelligence Committee's main findings.
The Senate Intelligence Committee began investigating the use of torture by the CIA to obtain information from detainees about terrorist plots. The report covers the history of the interrogation program, the value of information obtained from torture techniques, and the CIA's and other government officials public statements about the "enhanced interrogation" program. The Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the torture program was ineffective and that some techniques were harsher than admitted previously. The report was completed in December 2012 and was released December 9, 2014, after the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee debated how much information should be released. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who led the investigation, stated that the classified, unredacted version of the report could be released later if necessary. The CIA released its own fact sheet and response.
Iraq Conflict: Islamic State Research Links provide news, analyses, background, U.S. government reports, costs and number of deaths, funding, and more on the current conflict surrounding the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as Islamic State In the Levant, ISIL, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, or Daesh).
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes that the Obama administration’s lack of clear strategy in combating ISIS and its misunderstanding of ISIS’ appeal have kept the United States from making real progress in the conflict in Syria.
The United States has now conducted 500 targeted killings, which have killed an estimated 3,674 people, including 473 civilians. However, as Micah Zenko points out, these operations have not diminished the size of targeted terrorist groups.
The threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is being overblown to a dangerous and untruthful degree by U.S. government officials, who are getting away with it without question. Micah Zenko argues that U.S. officials must envision America’s enemies “more accurately and honestly.”
John Campbell, Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies, evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, CFR Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams details the United States' goals in Iraq and Syria: to alleviate the humanitarian and refugee crisis; to prevent an Iranian victory in Syria; and to strike devastating blows at the Islamic State.
President Obama’s strategy in Syria and Iraq is not working. The president is hoping that limited airstrikes, combined with U.S. support for local proxies, will “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State.
On October 28, 2014, Nobel Peace Prize Winners addressed a letter to President Obama, asking him to disclose U.S. torture practices, as detailed in the CIA 2012 torture report, to close sites where torture was performed, and to end the practice in the United States.
Even as ISIS is losing a little ground at Kobani, it is gaining strength elsewhere and the new Iraqi interior minister's ties to Iran compromises the response, writes Max Boot for the Wall Street Journal.
Matthew C. Waxman, CFR's adjunct senior fellow for law and foreign policy, discusses the costs and benefits of keeping Guantanamo Bay open and policy options available to the Obama administration, as part of CFR's Academic Conference Call series.
Despite perceptions among Americans that the country is unsafe and a terrorist attack is "likely," the real threats don't emanate from actors like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Rather, as Micah Zenko argues, self scrutiny is needed among U.S. policymakers to recognize the true threat of terrible domestic crimes, generally not labeled as "terrorism," as they are more likely to occur, and do so frequently.
When it comes to the fight against ISIS, the United States and Turkey are finding it difficult to cooperate because both have different goals, says CFR’s Steven Cook. While the United States is more focused on defeating ISIS, Turkey is more concerned with suppressing Kurdish nationalism, preventing the Syrian conflict from spilling over into Turkey, and bringing about regime change in Damascus.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Koblentz argues that the United States should work with other nuclear-armed states to manage threats to nuclear stability in the near term and establish processes for multilateral arms control efforts over the longer term.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »