June 17, 2014

Learning From Iraq to Prepare for Afghanistan’s Post-2016 Future

By Richard Weitz

In a revealing quirk of history, the crisis in Iraq caused by the sudden onslaught of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) can help us better understand possible scenarios for Afghanistan moving forward. Despite their many differences, both countries are exposing the consequences of America’s decreased leverage combined with the rising but often mutually competing influence of other powers.

Notwithstanding the desire of both Iraqi and U.S. leaders to keep U.S. forces in Iraq beyond 2011 in order to train and equip Iraq’s still developing security forces, domestic political opposition in both countries combined with flawed diplomatic negotiations led to a complete U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq at the end of that year.

For a while the outcome seemed acceptable, but in recent months the spillover from the war in neighboring Syria into Iraq combined with the misguided political leadership in Baghdad led to increasing political polarization and growing sectarian-fueled terrorist violence. This process, not always visible in Washington, has now culminated in a full-scale civil war that threatens to be as violent as the one in neighboring Syria.

Read the full piece at World Politics Review.

  • Commentary
    • POLITICO Magazine
    • May 12, 2020
    What Afghanistan Can Teach Us About Fighting Coronavirus

    As worried Americans look for answers in the midst of a global pandemic, it is no surprise that many have turned to the symbols and language of war. Public officials from Gove...

    By Pat A. Basu & Dr. Jason Dempsey

  • Podcast
    • April 24, 2020
    Walk Away from the Taliban, Not Afghanistan

    General David H. Petraeus (US Army, Retired) and Vance Serchuk speak with ISW Founder and President Dr. Kimberly Kagan on the dangers of the U.S. deal with the Taliban. Liste...

    By David H. Petraeus & Vance Serchuk

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • April 1, 2020
    Can America Trust the Taliban to Prevent Another 9/11?

    For nearly 20 years, the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan has been sustained by a single, vital national interest: the clear and present danger of another September 11–like at...

    By David H. Petraeus & Vance Serchuk

  • Commentary
    • The Washington Post
    • March 19, 2020
    9/11 swallowed U.S. foreign policy. Don’t let the coronavirus do the same thing.

    For two decades, American foreign policy has been shaped by the 9/11 attacks. The catastrophic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our failure to see the full threat posed by Russia...

    By Ilan Goldenberg

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia