Afghanistan

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Afghanistan has long been a crossroads of world cultures, economies, politics, and militaries. RAND's early research on Afghanistan examined the 1980s Soviet military campaign and the subsequent fundamentalist Islamic regime. Since Operation Enduring Freedom, the 2001 U.S. military effort to rout the Taliban and find Osama bin Ladin's Al Qaeda network, RAND has engaged the new Afghan government, military, and people to support reconstruction, counterinsurgency, and nation-building efforts.

  • People try to get into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Q&A

    Collapse in Afghanistan: Early Insights from RAND Researchers

    Aug 17, 2021

    The sudden end to America's longest war came as the Taliban rolled into Kabul and the government collapsed. RAND researchers share their thoughts on how to help displaced Afghans, whether the country could again become a safe haven for terrorists, and the geopolitical implications of the collapse.

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other Taliban delegation members attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2021, photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

    Jul 22, 2021

    China is set to benefit significantly from a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. It's worth following this dynamic closely in the coming weeks and months.

Explore Afghanistan

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    A Bottom-Up Peace in Afghanistan

    The Afghan government has embarked on a high-stakes gamble: Try to negotiate with the leaders of the various insurgent networks to end the nine-year-old Afghan war. The notion of the Kabul government cutting a deal with the Taliban is fiercely controversial, write Wali Shaaker and John Parachini.

    Jul 15, 2010

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Why U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan Are So Frustrated

    President Obama's declaration last week that a change in personnel will not mean a change in policy suggests that the administration took only some of the lessons contained in Michael Hastings' Rolling Stone article, writes Celeste Ward Gventer.

    Jun 30, 2010

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    The Afghanistan Clock

    By replacing Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. President Barack Obama has treated the most recent symptom of his Afghan malaise—an insubordinate, or at least indiscreet, general. He has not, however, addressed the underlying malady, writes James Dobbins.

    Jun 25, 2010

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Talking to the Taliban

    President Karzai of Afghanistan wants to talk to the top Taliban leadership, and that's going to be a thorny issue for President Obama. Some U.S. officials would prefer that Mr. Karzai and his government concentrate instead on detaching low-level fighters from the insurgent cause, writes James Dobbins.

    May 12, 2010

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Is Medicinal Opium Production Afghanistan's Answer? A Reply to Comments

    The authors respond to comments made in Bhattacharji, Romesh and Kamminga, Jorrit. (2010), A Response to Is Medicinal Opium Production Afghanistan's Answer?: Lessons From India and the World Market, Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, Vol. 3(1).

    May 1, 2010

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Al Qaeda Tipping Point? Still a Long Way to Go

    We are still too close to the events to discern the long-term trajectory of the campaign against al Qaeda. And almost nine years after 9/11, analysts are still remarkably divided in their assessments of al Qaeda's current situation, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Apr 26, 2010

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Only a New 'Grand Bargain' on Transatlantic Solidarity Can Meet Deepest Challenges

    NATO's new Strategic Concept will set out ambitious goals and means for the alliance, but it seems likely to paper over the cracks which are beginning to separate U.S. interests and attitudes from those of most of its European allies, writes Robert E. Hunter.

    Apr 23, 2010

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Dueling Doctrines: Mullen vs. Powell? Or Mullen & Powell vs. Rumsfeld?

    Reflecting changes in the American approach to counterinsurgency, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen recently enunciated a new and apparently more restrained doctrine for the use of armed force. But is this really a repudiation of the so-called Powell Doctrine?, asks James Dobbins.

    Mar 17, 2010

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    The Coming Afghanistan Surge—and the Severely Wounded

    As America starts its ninth year at war, more than 32,000 U.S. service members have already been wounded in action in Iraq and about 3,500 in Afghanistan. Will U.S. resolve to strengthen care for wounded Americans be maintained, asks Ralph Masi.

    Jan 15, 2010

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Disparate Prevalence Estimates of PTSD Among Service Members Who Served in Iraq and Afghanistan: Possible Explanations

    Combat exposure is the only correlate consistently associated with PTSD.

    Jan 1, 2010

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Ends, Ways, and Means—The Debate We Still Need on Afghanistan

    When President Obama explained his decision to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to support General Stanley McChrystal's new counterinsurgency campaign, he left a key question unanswered: Will this be enough to achieve U.S. strategic ends in Afghanistan? writes David E. Johnson.

    Dec 9, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Take the War to Pakistan

    The United States and Pakistan must target Taliban leaders in Baluchistan. There are several ways to do it, and none requires military forces, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Dec 4, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Afghanistan: A Marathon, Not a Prize Fight

    President Obama's decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan reflects a nation deeply divided on the war. There are compelling arguments on both sides, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 1, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    A False Promise of 'Counterinsurgency'

    If the additional troops President Obama has ordered sent to Afghanistan are intended to pursue a "population-centric counterinsurgency" campaign, as described in news reports about General McChrystal's thinking, then this decision is regrettable, writes Celeste Ward Gventer.

    Dec 1, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    When Generals and Ambassadors Feud

    In 2007 in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker set a model for civil-military collaboration: They never let daylight show between their positions. In providing differing advice to Washington over troop levels in Afghanistan, General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry have diverged from this model, writes James Dobbins.

    Nov 13, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Our Man in Kabul

    Now that Karzai has been declared the election's winner, the breach with Abdullah—the man most responsible for his original rise to power—could have very dangerous consequences. The last thing Karzai, NATO, and the United States can afford is the emergence of a renewed northern alliance, writes James Dobbins.

    Nov 4, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Karzai's Second Term a Test for International Community

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai begins his second term with his country on the brink of chaos. To establish control, two major elements of reform are necessary, writes Terrence Kelly.

    Nov 2, 2009

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Is Medicinal Opium Production Afghanistan's Answer? Lessons from India and the World Market

    Poverty and corruption are pervasive in Afghanistan and opium production is rampant, especially in the country's most insecure southern regions.

    Nov 1, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Keeping Our Allies on Our Side in Afghanistan

    There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, observed Winston Churchill in 1945, and that is fighting without them. It's a truth worth recalling as the Obama administration nears crucial decisions on Afghanistan, write Leo Michel and Robert Hunter.

    Oct 27, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Prime Numbers: Doped

    The illicit drug trade is the ultimate value-added chain. As cocaine and heroin make their perilous journeys from the fields of Colombia and Afghanistan to markets in U.S. and European cities, each border crossed and each trafficker involved adds dollars to a price, write Beau Kilmer And Peter Reuter.

    Oct 19, 2009