Return of a King: A Cautionary Narrative for Afghanistan

by Steven R. Corman Here is a quiz:  In what South Asian war did a country invade to pursue its own interests, overthrow an existing government and establish a client regime, encounter effective resistance by local insurgents despite the superiority of its army, fight to a stalemate, and withdraw when resources and interest waned back home?  If your answer did not include the British East India Company (EIC) invasion of Afghanistan in the 19th century, […] Read more »

African Development Surge Could Play into AQIM Narrative

by Nathaniel Greenberg The Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies at the Potomac Institute recently released a report entitled “Terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel in 2012: Global Reach and Implications.” It contains important proposals for addressing some of the humanitarian crises inflicting the region (including in the Western Sahara, which continues to divide our largest allies in the region). But it also recommends moving forward aggressive deregulation and privatization initiatives that could amplify the predominant grievance—and […] Read more »

Smith-Mundt Has Been Modernized

by Steven R. Corman I was shocked to see  in a post at bbgstrategy.com that the 2013 Defense Authorization Act had passed and was signed into law over the holidays with Smith-Mundt modernization provisions intact.  I say shocked because of the sh#*tstorm that erupted when these provisions were proposed last summer.  I thought this was a no-go, or would at least require a fight, but the critics seem to have either lost track or lost […] Read more »

The Arab Constitutions 2012: Chaos and Strategy

by Nathaniel Greenberg The sudden vote on a new Constitution in Egypt has done little to stem tension in Egypt following the decree of President Mohamed Morsi to grant himself unilateral powers in driving the legislative agenda. In a live appearance on Egyptian television on Friday, Morsi attempted to address criticism that the January 25 revolution has been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. He singled out the two critical votes that led to an Islamist […] Read more »

Critics Fret About Smith-Mundt Modernization Act

by Steven R. Corman The House of Representatives has been working to amend the laws that govern the dissemination of “propaganda” materials in the U.S.  What seemed like a good idea to me and others–one long overdue–is being spun by some observers as a dark effort by the DoD and State Department who want authorization to brainwash Americans. Last night Buzzfeed posted an article claiming that the changes were being quietly inserted into a defense […] Read more »

“We are All Afghans” in Iran

by Jeffry R. Halverson The Arab Spring showed the world how social media can help organize mass political dissent. In the cases of Tunisia and Egypt, single issues coalesced online into far broader and diverse campaigns that toppled ruling regimes. Recently, outside of the Arab world, discriminatory government policies  in Iran against Afghans have come to light. Decried by critics as overt state-backed racism, it is a scandalous hot-button issue that the rulers of the […] Read more »

Suharto Era Comops Backfire in 2012 Indonesia

by Chris Lundry Indonesian extremists continue to portray Ambonese Christians as engaged in separatist rebellion against Indonesia, and a crusade against Muslims. This isn’t true, but raises the question: where on earth did they get this idea? The adage that if a lie gets repeated enough times it becomes true is, apparently, applicable in Indonesia’s Ambon region. It was home to a brief separatist insurgency following the Indonesian revolution (1945-49).  Following their defeat in 1950, […] Read more »

Islamism and Dissent vs. Identity in the Voting Booth

by Jeffry R. Halverson* “If a group of people feels that it has been humiliated and that its honor has been trampled underfoot, it will want to express its identity.”                                                                                           […] Read more »

US PD Advisory Commission is no more

by Steven R. Corman In an apparent budget cutting move, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy was cut from the recently passed budget, and has ceased to exist. The move eliminates an organization over 60 years old. The Commission was established under the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 as the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information.  It was merged with an educational exchange commission in 1977 to produce the current name […] Read more »

Putting the Islamist “win” in Tunisia in Context

by Jeffry R. Halverson Put him in power and see how wise he is. – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms I have spent an inordinate amount of time studying Islamist ideologues and their ideas during my relatively short lifetime. I’ve never read War and Peace, but I have read Milestones and The Neglected Duty. In recent months, the Tunisian Islamist and leader of Ennahda, Rachid Ghannouchi, has occupied a good deal of my attention. […] Read more »