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As NATO Draws Down, Feuding Neighbors’ Elections May Heat Up

As NATO Draws Down, Feuding Neighbors’ Elections May Heat Up

  As NATO troops leave, Afghanistan and two of its northern neighbors will undergo national elections. Should we be worried? While some observers expect an uptick in Afghan border infiltration after the upcoming NATO drawdown, others feel that instability in neighboring states Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have long been homegrown. These countries are the main routes […]

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Instability Worries — and Policy Discussion — Move to Central Asia

Instability Worries — and Policy Discussion — Move to Central Asia

Depending on whom you listen to, Central Asia could be 1) the next mass target of Islamic insurgents; 2) on the verge of a client-state battle between Moscow and Beijing; or 3) fated to authoritarian leaders for the next generation. Nestled between Russia and China, and bordering Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, a glance at the […]

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Theory and Practice, Two Sides of the COIN

Theory and Practice, Two Sides of the COIN

As values of certain ideas fluctuate with fashion and practicality, so has that of COIN, or counter-insurgency, one of the principal war-fighting approaches in recent years for U.S.-led coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such is the main argument in Fred Kaplan’s recent Foreign Affairs (Jan/Feb 2013) essay “The End of the Age of Petraeus: The […]

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Great Decisions 2013: The Intervention Calculation

Great Decisions 2013: The Intervention Calculation

The U.S. conducted airstrikes against Serbian forces in 1994 and 1999, and against Libyan troops in 2011, to reduce threats of genocide and humanitarian disaster. But the sole superpower sat idle in 1994 while hundreds of thousands were slaughtered across Rwanda and bodies floated down river past horrified neighbors. Just what criteria the U.S. has […]

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Tribal Drums Along the Potomac

Tribal Drums Along the Potomac

“Tribalism” as many know describes the political system in technologically primitive countries without established central government or democratic tradition. Today it also applies to the US Congress. What is tribalism? Blind faith in a single leader or ideology. Support for a clan member in any dispute no matter how incriminating. Decision by consensus, while graybeards […]

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The Arab Spring: Countering Counter-insurgency

The Arab Spring: Countering Counter-insurgency

The recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, long-term wars pitting factionalist fighters against government forces, renewed international interest in counter-insurgency. Washington D.C. sparked a cottage industry in what became known as COIN: think-tanks climbed aboard, new prophets emerged, blogs bloomed. Press accounts in 2009-2010 trumpeted COIN as the U.S. surged civilians and troops to Afghanistan, […]

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Ex Uno, Multi

Ex Uno, Multi

Philip Gordon, the U.S. Department of State’s Assistant Secretary for Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, spoke September 21st on the 20th anniversary of the U.S.’s FREEDOM Support Act (FSA), which has provided democracy and market-reform assistance to eastern Europe and former Soviet states. The FSA has been responsible for training thousands of current and […]

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Georgian Elections Again an International Affair

Georgian Elections Again an International Affair

Nestled among gorgeous mountains, blessed with exotic cuisine, and loved for its arts and outgoing people, Georgia has many suitors. Long courted by her northern Russian neighbor, she has in recent years been beset by foreign admirers, bearing gifts of “democracy” and “growth” that (they promise) will ensure she lives happily ever after. With parliamentary […]

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Civilian Role in Conflict Areas Marches On

Civilian Role in Conflict Areas Marches On

Whether drowned out last week by the U.S. presidential campaign, or the crash of August waves at the beach, a rare but notable news item may have missed most readers. A suicide bomber in eastern Afghanistan killed four Americans, one of whom was a civilian aid worker, only the second such U.S. professional to lose […]

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Considering “The West and the Rest”

Considering “The West and the Rest”

This last week I watched part of Niall Ferguson’s “Civilization: The West and the Rest” series, one of two video segments exploring aspects of Western culture that have set it apart from others. The show is visually rich, with splices of early 20th century footage and modern cityscapes, with Ferguson himself often on camera and […]

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The Bear Comes Back Over the Mountain

The Bear Comes Back Over the Mountain

Russia looks to do its part for Afghanistan, and itself While trigger-happy drones do their part to smooth a coming US drawdown in Afghanistan, pundits and diplomats alike nervously pace the green rooms of news and late-night talk shows. What will a counter-insurgency look like without a stabilizing super power? Whether one bets on red […]

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Snookering a Trip to Herat

Snookering a Trip to Herat

Last November during Eid-al-Adha, a week-long holiday when the Haj culminates, I was able to escape crowded Kabul for the western city of Herat. An old city-state linked historically with the Persian empire, Herat was known in its 1500s heyday for poetry and miniaturist painting. It’s also famous for the fine tilework on its mausoleums and […]

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In Conflict Zones, Elusive Facts

In Conflict Zones, Elusive Facts

In the maelstrom of conflict reporting from different corners of the globe, and its analysis and resultant policy-setting by major powers, the local scorecard is often unclear. If insurgents control six out of ten villages in a district, are they winning? Many would say yes. But if we knew that this was two fewer than […]

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Russia’s Communist Party Endures in 2012

Russia’s Communist Party Endures in 2012

Communist Party chair Ziuganov with supporters in Samara, Nov 2011 (credit: www.dp.ru) Russia’s March 4th elections will be remembered for several things: vocal demonstrations after December’s parliamentary vote, Moscow throngs denouncing Putin, and the now-household name of protest leader Aleksei Navalny, alternately pictured with megaphone and in handcuffs. But the most interesting outcome is one […]

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Don’t Pull NATO Advisors

Don’t Pull NATO Advisors

The shooting of two American officers in the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul this last Saturday was a shocking and disturbing event. If however NATO pulls its advisors out of ministries, while understandable, it would be a disappointing precedent and undermine progress and modernization in an evolving Afghanistan. As stability in this country largely […]

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About the Author

Jason Anderson
Jason Anderson

Jason has lived and worked for over five years in Russian-speaking countries. He spent April-May 2014 researching religious extremist groups in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. He has project experience in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. He previously served as a trainer for U.S. military and civilians working alongside counterparts in Afghanistan, and as a coordinator with Afghan ministerial advisors on National Priority Program (NPP) funding proposals. Jason speaks conversational Russian and holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.

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