By Stephen Biddle, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1985–1987; Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security, Jeffrey A. Friedman, Research Fellow, International Security Program and Jacob N. Shapiro
Why did violence decline in Iraq in 2007? Many credit the "surge," or the program of U.S. reinforcements and doctrinal changes that began in January 2007. Others cite the voluntary insurgent stand-downs of the Sunni Awakening or say that the violence had simply run its course after a wave of sectarian cleansing. Evidence drawn from recently declassified data on violence at local levels and a series of seventy structured interviews with coalition participants finds little support for the cleansing or Awakening theses. This analysis constitutes the first attempt to gather systematic evidence across space and time to help resolve this debate, and it shows that a synergistic interaction between the surge and the Awakening was required for violence to drop as quickly and widely as it did.
February 10, 2010
The geopolitical reasons for the Pakistani state to tolerate militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba are well known. Yet there is precious little evidence about why average Pakistanis tolerate and even support groups that do so much to harm their nation's interests and reputation, as well as the safety of their fellow citizens. Because militant groups cannot survive without some popular backing, understanding why Pakistanis support them is a significant national security challenge for Pakistan, the United States, and the international community.
Journal Article, International Security, issue 3, volume 34
Western interest in Pakistan increased dramatically with the rise of the Taliban and other militant groups. Current U.S. policy toward Pakistan rests on four factors that purportedly explain Pakistani support for militancy: poverty; personal religiosity and approval of sharia law; support for legal Islamist political parties; and failure to support democracy. A survey of the sentiments of the Pakistani public, however, shows that these conventional wisdoms may be mistaken. To undermine support for militant groups, therefore, policymakers must pay greater attention to determining who supports militant organizations.
Journal Article, International Security, issue 2, volume 32
The United States' color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) has failed to motivate relevant actors to take costly protective measures in response to a terrorist alert, particularly after increases in the threat level appeared to be politically manipulated. The HSAS has neither shared relevant information regarding its alerts nor generated enough confidence in the government to convince the public to take necessary actions. An alternative trust-based alert system could succeed where HSAS has failed.