Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts

27 March 2017

Bernard Fall and Vietnamese Revolutionary Warfare: A Missed Opportunity for Counterinsurgency Doctrine?

by Nathaniel Moir

The work of Bernard Fall converges with two contemporary events, one recent and one soon to commence. Fredrik Logevall’s spirited New York Times Op-Ed reminded readers, on the fiftieth anniversary of Fall’s death, that studying Fall merits the effort due to the persistent relevance of his prolific scholarship on matters pertaining to war. The second event scheduled for March 18 consists of the United States Army’s Heritage and Education Center’s roundtable, “Cassandra in Oz: Counterinsurgency and Future War,” with Conrad Crane, David Petraeus, and current Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. At this event, the development, implementation, and legacy of the United States’ Counterinsurgency doctrine provides the focus for a forum that deserves significant attention.

However, as shown in a memorable War On the Rocks article, the legacy of the United States’ Counterinsurgency doctrine includes a contentious foundation. Bernard Fall, in contrast with proponents of French military doctrine known as la guerre révolutionnaire, upon which key components of the United States’ Counterinsurgency doctrine was based, provided a more circumspect corpus of work from which the United States’ Counterinsurgency doctrine may potentially still benefit. Fundamentally, Bernard Fall believed that successful resolution of the Vietnam War could occur through negotiations informed by more judicious understanding of the cultural and historical realities of the Vietnamese Revolution, particularly in the construction of foreign policy related to Southeast Asia. The military-focused efforts Fall personally observed in Indochina – during his first research trip to Hanoi and much of Tonkin in 1953 - did not appear to work despite the superior military advantage of the French Army over the Viet-Minh. Fall’s contention proved impossible to ignore after the decisive French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. As a result of the Viet-Minh victory, French proponents of la guerre révolutionnaire appropriated Viet-Minh tactics – tactics which had been successful against them – for France’s growing conflict against the FLN in Algeria. Problematically, however, as the introduction to the United States Counterinsurgency Field Manual, FM 3-24 makes clear, proponents of this doctrine, especially David Galula, provided a conceptual basis for FM 3-24 utilized in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

26 March 2017

Countering the Daesh Narrative

by Cheryl Phillips

In the information war against Daesh, communication professionals must understand how the enemy’s narrative is constructed and promulgated. Only then can the United States and its partners offer alternative narratives. The West must also create a marketplace of ideas where these alternative narratives are discussed and debated and compete with Daesh for influence. These actions will counter Daesh’s propaganda and narrative that continue to attract recruits, sympathizers and supporters to its ideology.

Expressing his dissatisfaction with current efforts to defeat Daesh, President Donald Trump in January signed a Presidential Memorandum calling for the Department of Defense (DOD) to deliver a preliminary plan within 30 days that included information operations and other means to “isolate and delegitimize ISIS and its radical Islamist ideology.”[i] This effort illustrates the Trump administration’s view of the importance to national security of undermining the Daesh narrative.

The DOD plan, delivered the end of February, draws on all elements of national power – “diplomatic, financial, cyber, intelligence [and] public diplomacy, and it’s been drafted in close coordination with our interagency partners.”[ii] Administration officials continue to make Daesh’s defeat the centerpiece of national security strategy. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later in March will host the foreign ministers and senior leaders of the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh, accelerating international efforts to destroy the extremist group militarily and starve it of funding, weapons and fighters.[iii] Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition, views the fight against Daesh as an “unprecedented challenge.”[iv] General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes that Daesh remains a threat to the nation and it citizens, partners and allies.[v]

24 March 2017

*** The Real Lesson from the London Attack: Perfect Counterterrorism Is Impossible

Daniel R. DePetris

No amount of resources can stop a single human being from doing something destructive to other human beings.

The grounds surrounding the Palace of Westminster are some of the most iconic in all of London. Tourists from around the world flock to the area on a daily basis, knowing that deep inside Westminster, members of Parliament are duking it out and shouting at one another with their distinguished British accents.

That wasn’t the situation today. The streets and yards that are normally bustling with people were on complete lockdown by London’s Metropolitan Police. A car, zooming at high speed on Westminster Bridge, rammed into a crowd of pedestrians before the driver jumped out of the vehicle and started stabbing police officers near the parliamentary complex. Police eventually shot the assailant to death, but not before at least three people were killed and twenty others were injured. Convinced this was far more than a random rampage with no discernible motive, Scotland Yard decided to treat the incident as a terrorist attack.

There are still a lot of aspects to this story that we don’t know. Was the attacker directed by Islamic State operatives in Syria to carry out this attack? Is the suspect a returnee from Syria? Was this another case of a lone-wolf sympathizer urged on or inspired by the group’s propaganda to take matters into his own hands, but without any further guidance? Are there any accomplices in London that helped the attacker carry out his operation? Did UK intelligence officers have any inclination whatsoever that something like this was going to happen? We don't know the answers to any of these questions.

Violent protests not terror, use least harmful measures: Israeli expert

by Rahul Tripathi

A LEADING Israeli counter-terror expert has warned against confusing violent protests with terrorism, and advocated the use of “least harmful measures” to contain such agitations, including in Jammu and Kashmir. Otherwise, Prof Boaz Ganor said, there is a danger of the protesters being radicalised and turning to terrorism. Speaking to The Indian Express, Ganor, who heads counter-terror studies at the IDC college in Israel, also described surgical strikes as a “wise” option against terrorism and cautioned that the next big security challenge for India would emanate from the proponents of “global jihad”, especially Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Without naming Pakistan, Ganor further said that Israel can learn from India on fighting terror because this country has for years experienced “organised terrorism” that is mostly “state sponsored”.

Asked about the use of pellet guns on protesters in Jammu and Kashmir, Ganor said, “As a counter-terror expert, I don’t see violent protest as terrorism. One needs to use all possible measures to prevent violent protests… hopefully, with little damage, injuries or killing. One reason is you don’t want to kill and secondly and importantly, you will end up radicalising protesters using harsh measures and some of them might turn to terrorism, which you don’t want. You need to use the least harmful measures for those violent protests.”

23 March 2017

*** Counterinsurgency From the Bottom Up: Colonel H.R. McMaster and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tel Afar, Spring-Fall 2005

Mackubin Thomas Owens

Editor’s Note: In light of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s appointment as President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, we are publishing the following case study written by FPRI Senior Fellow Mac Owens, who wrote it for his class “Leadership 11-2” in the National Security Affairs Department at the United States Naval War College in May 2009.

By the time Col. H.R. McMaster led elements of his 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR) into northern Iraq’s Nineveh (Ninewa) Province in May of 2005, he had already established a reputation within the Army as a highly-respected and innovative officer. During the 1991 Gulf War, Captain McMaster had commanded Eagle Troop of the 2nd ACR and during the 1991 engagement known as the Battle of 73 Easting, his cavalry troop overran and destroyed a numerically superior Iraqi Republican Guard force, taking no casualties. For this action, he was awarded the Silver Star.

He later earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and taught history at the US Military Academy. He commanded 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment from 1999 until 2002 and in the spring of 2003, McMaster joined the staff of General John Abizaid at Central Command. He assumed command of 3rd ACR in June of 2004, leading the unit from Fort Carson, Colorado to Iraq in January 2005 for its second deployment.

Terrorism and Violence in Pakistan: Understanding their Mind


During last month, there were a series of terror attacks in Punjab, Khyber Paktunkhwa and Sindh, claiming more than 100 lives.

Print and Social media were full of opinions on what the problems are in Pakistan and how could they be addressed. This commentary focuses on how the Pakistanis perceive terrorism, violence and the fallouts. What do they consider as the major cause and what do they see as a possible solution?

Afghanistan and Pakistan border problems: A major cause

Most in Pakistan consider failure to address the Afghanistan issue as a primary problem for violence and terror inside Pakistan.

A section consider that Afghan policies of Pakistan and supporting militants in the past as a reason for the recent attacks. A section also question the efficacy of the National Action Plan A commentator wrote: “For decades- dating back to the Mujahideen – our (Pakistan) chief export to Afghanistan has been militancy. The Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, whether by neglect or more likely design, were low on our list of priorities. Yet we managed to summon up outrage over the leadership of TTP finding safe refuge in Afghanistan. As ye sow, so shall ye reap?”

22 March 2017

Hawala Networks: The Paperless Trail of Terrorist Transactions

BENNETT SEFTEL

An integral component of U.S. counterterrorism strategy has centered on disrupting terrorist finances. Terrorist groups have exploited resources and industries in various countries – poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, charcoal mining in Somalia, and oil extraction in Iraq to name a few – to sell on the black market and subsequently use proceeds to arm and pay militants.

Perhaps one of the most mystifying aspects of terrorist financing is the ability for terrorist organizations to direct capital from one location to another without the use of institutionalized banking systems. To accomplish this objective, terrorist groups turn to hawala networks as a means of moving funds undetected.

Hawala, which means “transfer” in Arabic, is an informal transaction system based largely on mutual trust. The way the system works is as follows: An individual in country A gives money to a hawala broker, known as a hawalader, in country A. That hawalader then contacts a hawalader operating in country B and informs the person to give a certain amount of money to a specific individual in country B. Codes are provided by all parties to ensure that the money is delivered to the proper recipient. The hawaladers themselves do not send physical money; instead, they maintain records of payments and settle debts at a later point, often through the exchange of valuable goods or even through wire transfers. During the transaction, hawaladers charge a fee for their service.

21 March 2017

Redesigning Strategy for Irregular War

PDF file 0.5 MB 
by Ben Connable

This working paper derives from an ongoing research effort to improve U.S. strategic design to defeat the Islamic State (IS), a hybrid insurgent-terrorist group that currently holds territory in Iraq and Syria, and has affiliates across the world. The current strategy to degrade, defeat, and destroy the Islamic State, and American strategies to succeed in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, reveal serious flaws in the Western approach to strategic design: ends are unclear, yet it seems hard to envision clean and concise ending to such complex problems. Simple yet substantive modifications to terms and design processes can greatly improve the viability of long-term military campaigns targeting irregular, or hybrid adversaries. In this working paper I argue that selection of strategy should derive immediately from a policymaker's broader vision for the world and then a region, and only then to defeat a specific group like IS. I offer a simple yet practical interpretation of terms to facilitate this selection. The central argument in this working paper is that the American "ends, ways, and means" approach to military strategy should be modified to address complex irregular warfare problems like the one posed by IS. It is unrealistic to imagine irregular wars ending on clear, finite terms, so American strategist should stop trying to shoehorn irregular war planning into an ill-fitting ends, ways, and means paradigm designed for conventional war. Once ends, ways, and means are modified for irregular war, the U.S. and its allies should consider similar modifications to the strategic design process writ large, with the intent of improving military and governmental effectiveness, reducing costs, and avoiding the kind of political backlash that often undermines long-term military operations. To focus this argument, I offer changes within the context of the counter-IS strategy. Examples in this working paper center on IS and the Middle East. However, findings and recommendations are intended to have broader relevance.

20 March 2017

India is the 7th most terror affected country. Pakistan 4th


Paris, Iraq… 2015 was the year that cities were burnt, innocent blood was spilt and countries destroyed by brutal terrorist groups.

The world’s most developed countries have suffered a dramatic increase in deaths as a result of terrorism in the last year, according to the new Global Terrorism Index, despite a drop in the global number of terrorism-related deaths.

There was a 650 per cent increase in fatal terror attacks on people living in the world’s biggest economies in 2015, the Global Terrorism Index 2016 reveals.

However, the study also shows that across the world as a whole, the number of deaths from terrorism fell 10 per cent to 29,376, compared to the previous year.
Here’s a look at the 10 most dangerous countries in the world.

INDIA RANK: 7

IMAGE: Soldiers rush in after terrorists opened fire on a bus and then attacked the Dina Nagar police station in Gurdaspur. Photograph: PTI Photo

With 289 deaths in 2015, India ranks seventh in the world of countries most affected by terrorism.

The deaths from terrorism in India decreased to the second lowest level since 2000. However, there were four per cent more attacks, totalling 800 and representing the highest number since 2000.

17 March 2017

After ISIS: U.S. Political-Military Strategy in the Global War on Terror


Sooner or later, and probably within the next few months, the United States and its coalition partners will defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militarily, by collapsing its control of key areas in Iraq and Syria. That operational victory, however, will not necessarily prevent remnants of ISIS from reforming at a later date, nor will it bring a larger strategic triumph in the global war on terror. As long as large parts of the greater Middle East remain founts of ideological extremism, the United States will continue to confront a dangerous challenge from jihadist terrorism.

In this report, Hal Brands and Peter Feaver assess America's strategic options after ISIS by examining four politico-military strategies for counter-terrorism. They conclude that an enhanced version of the approach that the Obama administration took to defeating ISIS represents the best strategy for waging a dangerous conflict that is likely to endure for many years.


Download full “After ISIS: U.S. Political-Military Strategy in the Global War on Terror” report.

16 March 2017

*** Reinforcing Failure: The Revised Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States



The United States and its allies—including virtually every Muslim state in the world—face a very real threat from a small fraction of violent Islamist extremists. This is a threat, however, that must be fought in partnership with our allies, and in the Muslim world, particularly the Middle East. We cannot win it at our borders, or by needlessly alienating most of the world's Muslims.

There are good reasons for fighting extremism with host country partners in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen. There are still more good reasons for cooperating in this fight with largely Muslim allies like Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the UAE. These same reasons make it wise to cooperate in counterterrorism efforts with the governments of African and Asian states with large Muslim populations. This struggle, or "war," will be won or lost at a global level. It is a fight for the hearts and minds of some 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world—some 23% of the world's population.

This is why U.S. strategy has focused on bringing the world's great religions together, and on partnerships with Muslim governments whose people show—in poll after poll—that the vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and violence. At the same time, it is a global struggle and one that goes far beyond ISIS and Al Qaida. Small Islamist extremist movements exist in virtually every country with large Muslim populations, and much of the Muslim world is in a state of political and economic turmoil and massive social change…

Where Are the Women? The Unfortunate Omission in the Army’s COIN Doctrine



… In a COIN environment where the population is the center of gravity, access to the entire population is an obvious necessity for operational success. But this poses a serious problem for counterinsurgency campaigns that are conducted within societies that uphold strict cultural norms forbidding the interaction of men and women. How does one begin to win the hearts and minds of a population when half of its members remain unreachable? Although FM 3-24 acknowledges that women hold significant influence over the social networks that lend support to insurgencies, it provides very little advice on how to co-opt local women into the US military’s counterinsurgency efforts. Throughout the entire 282-page manual, the word “women” appears only eight times (the singular “woman” never appears at all). A single paragraph dedicated towards the engagement of local women notes that “when women support COIN efforts, families support COIN efforts. Getting the support of families is a big step towards mobilizing the local populace against the insurgency.” Questions regarding how to garner the support of women during a counterinsurgency campaign, however, are never addressed. By neglecting to recognize how women impact the social networks from which insurgencies derive their support, how can we truly understand how these insurgencies function and successfully operate? …

15 March 2017

Military—Jihadi Complex S16E2: Gun to the head

Pranay Kotasthane
 
The rent-seeking prowess of the Pakistani Military—Jihadi Complex (MJC) is well documented. A line in Stephen Cohen’s The Idea of Pakistan summarises this ability best:

Pakistan now negotiates with its allies and friends by pointing a gun to its own head. [The Idea of Pakistan, page 270]

These powers of renting itself out to powerful states are being summoned up once again due to two reasons. One, the Trump administration has shown no inclination (yet) towards prioritising US involvement in Afghanistan. And this delay is resulting in a reduction of MJC’s rent-seeking vis-à-vis Afghanistan. Two, the policy of conducting war through sub-conventional means is now incurring a significant cost to the MJC itself, decreasing its confidence in deploying such assets in the future.

But given that the MJC controls the putative state of Pakistan, a reduction in the set of available options is unlikely to dismantle the complex itself.

The question then is: what are the options available to the MJC going ahead?

Tilak Devasher’s new book Pakistan: Courting the Abyss lists the following options that might be pulled out by the MJC in order to sustain its role as a useful actor for the US.

There are several options: to project the arrival of the Islamic State in Afghanistan and Pakistan or of the AQIS as a real threat to peace; midwifing the Afghan peace talks; accelerating the tactical nuclear weapons programme; and if all else fails, the old strategy of creating another Indo-Pak crisis [..].

10 March 2017

Black: Insurgency and Counterinsurgency

By Brian C. Darling
Source Link

There have been a great many books published on the subjects of insurgency and counterinsurgency since the inception of the Global War on Terror (or “current, ongoing overseas contingency operations”, if you prefer); a number of these have focused on the U.S. Army’s mistakes in Vietnam or on the efforts on the United States and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jeremy Black’s recent contribution, Insurgency and Counterinsurgency: A Global History, offers more insight; it is a comprehensive history of insurgency and counterinsurgency warfare that is not limited in scope to the efforts of Western powers.

Early in the work, Black demonstrates that insurgency and counterinsurgency warfare are not new military concepts; “the intention is to show that insurgencies have happened across organized human history and are therefore far from being a characteristic of modernity.”[i] Discussion of the ancient world is limited to the first and second chapters, where the purpose of the inclusion of this material is to demonstrate that insurgency is not a phenomenon exclusive to modern – or Western – warfare. The narrative takes the reader around the globe and from the ancient world to the modern at a rapid pace once the reader begins this compelling and engaging work, it is difficult to put down. Insurgency and Counterinsurgency: A Global History offers a uniquely international perspective as Black leads the reader from continent to continent, giving attention first to the small wars of ancient Asia and Africa, building up to those of Europe and its colonies.

9 March 2017

The Sri Lankan Counterterrorism Model: Intelligence Innovation Outside the Anglosphere

BY KAGUSTHAN ARIARATNAM

In reading Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) of the ongoing counterterrorism operations in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, I have noticed a pattern in Islamic State’s “modus operandi”, that of an analogical spider.

Spiders have eight legs and two body parts, including the head region (cephalothorax) and the abdomen. Most spiders have toxic venom, which they use to kill their prey. So, if the international community wants to get rid of ISIS, hypothetically speaking, they must get rid of ISIS’ cephalothorax, rather than fight with its eight legs. What I try to pinpoint here is that, while ISIS's headquarters (cephalothorax) are in Syria, their means of survival (abdomen) depend on how much area they control in Iraq. Thus, before this ISIS "spider" transforms into a "multi-headed" and "multi-pronged" spider, the international community must target their headquarters in Syria.

Although international intelligence agencies have feet of clay, particularly in dealing with an enemy of many different faces, I feel that they deserve a more involved role than just being the eyes and ears of any one nation. Recommendations for an appropriate tradecraft to achieve collective intelligence are the need of the day. Although there is no truth to search for, no absolute truth, since everything is subjective, the valuable role that intelligence agencies play in producing deterrence is paramount. Achieving a state of global terrorist deterrence is what I consider the essential argument.

8 March 2017

Manipur: The Ceiling Of Democracy


Priya Ravichandran

Questioning the legitimacy of state elections is not to cast doubts on the process itself, but to enquire the exigencies under which the state is being made to play this role in the democratic republic of India.

HIn the Shadow of the Gunmen. Image courtesy of Indian Express

Manipur goes to polls on March 4th and the 8th and the elections are important for the state for two principal reasons.

One, for the first time in more than 15 years, the BJP is putting up a strong opposition in the state.

The second, more importantly, Irom Sharmila in August last year decided to end her 16-year fast and use constitutional methods to achieve her objective of repealing AFSPA from the state. She has started the People Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) to contest elections in the state.

The irony is even as the election process in and of itself becomes more democratic, the election and the legitimacy of the elected government in the state seems to be eroding for two important reasons.

One, how legitimate is an election in which the state is essentially isolated from the rest of the country?

Manipur is in its 115th day of a blockade declared by the United Naga Council, which is backed by the non-state group of NSCN — IM, which has signed a framework accord with the BJP in Nagaland.

5 March 2017

The Next 9/11: What's the Next Impossible Terror Threat?

Jacqueline R. Sutherland
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Over the past three decades, the terrorism threat has evolved from the detonation of a bomb in the World Trade Center’s parking garage, to the use of jetliners as missiles against the epicenters of American power, to the transformation of a truck into a weapon of mass destruction against a crowd of civilians along France’s southern shore. While the U.S. counterterrorism budget has doubled since 9/11 to reach $16 billion, nearly half of this expenditure funds the Transportation Security Administration, despite the notable shift in the terrorism threat away from civil aviation and towards soft targets. With Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant proving profoundly agile and adaptive in the face of formidable countermeasures, the U.S. counterterrorism strategy remains stuck on the defensive, responding to evolving terrorist strategies, rather than anticipating and disrupting them.

In the 9/11 Commission Report, the “failure of imagination” was cited as an intrinsic weakness of the United States’ pre-9/11 counterterrorism strategy, along with significant gaps in inter- and intra-agency communications and capabilities. While the flurry of organizational reforms that spawned the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security and various mission centers addressed many of these vulnerabilities, the failure to imagine the unimaginable continues to undermine our nation’s counterterrorism prevention efforts. As President Trump embarks upon his ambitious inaugural promise to “eradicate radical Islamic terror from the face of the Earth,” he will need to prioritize imagination to forecast and materially combat burgeoning terrorist groups, along with their changing tactics and targets. However, before imagination can be wielded as an effective counterterrorism tool, a nuanced understanding of how the terrorism landscape has evolved is paramount.

3 March 2017

Counter-Terror Chief: Expect Terrorist Drone Swarms ‘Soon’

By Patrick Tucker

An upcoming competition will spotlight systems for downing enemy UAVs attacking solo or in groups. 

Militaries could face a new threat: swarms of cheap enemy drones, according to one of the nation’s counter-terrorism officials.

“It is conceivable that some day soon we will see someone’s otherwise capable military security force penetrated, defeated or even overrun by such technologies,” Lt. Gen. Michael Nagata, director of Strategic and Operational Planning at the National Counterterrorism Center, said at the recent Special Operations Forces / Low Intensity Conflict summit.

Nagata has had his share of run-ins with terrorists and extremists. He led President Obama’s ill-fated program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels.

“What could you do with a swarm of weaponized unmanned aerial systems?” asked Nagata. “We need to remember that aerial vehicles are not the only rapidly growing capability when it comes to robotics. Ask yourself what could a robot the size of a penny that can cut through computer cables do to a command control room?”

ISIS has deployed a variety of weaponized consumer drones in recent months, from off-the-shelf DJI Phantoms modified to carry grenades to larger surveillance drones reminiscent of the Russian Eleron-3SV.

In October, a booby-trapped ISIS drone killed the Peshmerga fighters who shot it down.

1 March 2017

** Delegating the Dirty Work to U.S. Allies Is Smart Counterterrorism

William Wechsler

ONE OF the few things that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have in common is that they reversed their long-standing approaches to counterterrorism during their very last years in office. They initially held diametrically opposed military policies, with Bush choosing invasion and occupation and Obama preferring disengagement and drone strikes. But by the end of their second terms they had both ended up in roughly the same place, with a central focus on indirect action—enabling local forces to achieve U.S. counterterrorism objectives.

Through long periods of trial and error, constrained by a common reluctance to change course, but in the end having their hands forced by growing terrorist threats and events spiraling out of control, both presidents finally came to adopt the only set of counterterrorism policies that have been shown to succeed over the long run. It is important that President Donald Trump avoid repeating this painful and time-consuming learning curve.

Doing so will require him to accept lessons from his predecessors’ experiences. President Bush’s central mistakes are relatively easy to avoid. Simply follow the advice offered repeatedly by strategists from Gen. Douglas MacArthur to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and, if at all possible, avoid having American forces fight large conventional land wars in Asia. Eventually, President Bush largely extricated the United States from his self-dug hole through the combination of shifting to counterinsurgency operations, cultivating the Sons of Iraq, building the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service and supporting the revolution in U.S. special-operations targeting led by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. But the success of “the surge” came only after the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the explosion of Salafi jihadist terrorism. It is difficult to argue that Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State would have emerged in the absence of the initial U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

From the outset of his administration, President Obama clearly learned this lesson and was appropriately wary of any policy proposal that risked starting down the proverbial “slippery slope” to a large conventional land war. Even as the frequency of drone strikes against terrorists in multiple countries greatly expanded, he consistently stressed the need to marry these discrete direct actions to wider campaigns focused on indirect action. Obama seemed to understand that while U.S. direct actions can disrupt and even degrade foreign terrorist or insurgent groups, they rarely defeat and almost never destroy them. In military terms, direct action is a necessary line of operation, but indirect action is the decisive line of operation.

British Banks Are Profiting From Wars Around the Globe By Laundering Money for Warlords and Corrupt Officials


Almost a year ago, the UK government convened a global summit to commit to fighting corruption. The final communiqué from the governments involved summed up their historic intentions: “We want to send a clear signal to the corrupt that they will face consequences internationally. We want to make it harder for them to travel and do business in our countries.”

The time for sending signals is over. It is time to act against the kind of corruption that enables governments and armed groups especially in east and central Africa – the deadliest interlinked zone of conflict in the world – to prosecute wars and carry out mass atrocities.

The British government’s 2015 assessment of money laundering and terror-financing risks underscores how acting against corruption can prevent conflict. “The laundering of proceeds of overseas corruption into or through the UK fuels political instability in key partner countries. The National Crime Agency judges that billions of pounds of suspected proceeds of corruption are laundered through the UK each year.”

Yet for too long the international community has failed to fully deploy the anti-money laundering measures, targeted sanctions and other tools of financial pressure at its disposal. These tools were developed to fight terrorism, nuclear proliferation and organised crime, and they have impact. We formed The Sentry, an organisation which has established a team of analysts, regional experts and financial forensic investigators who follow the money to disrupt corrupt networks responsible for genocide or other mass atrocities in Africa. They focus on gathering the evidence that can enable law enforcement and banks to act. Used in the right way, this such information can create immense leverage for peace and human rights, as well as addressing the root cause of the massive refugee flows to Europe: the violent kleptocratic regimes that deny opportunities to their young people.