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

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at Patriot Congress and Exhibition Centre in the Moscow Region, Russia, August 23, 2021, photo by Ramil Sitdikov/Kremlin via Reuters

    Commentary

    After Afghanistan, Could Russia Misjudge America?

    Over the years, the United States has been humbled abroad more than once but bounced back. Now, as it withdraws from Afghanistan, might Russia see the United States as defeated and vulnerable to pressure? This could be an error.

    Aug 26, 2021

  • A U.S. Marine escorts Department of State personnel to be processed for evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2021, photo by Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marines via Reuters

    Commentary

    Afghanistan Withdrawal Says Little About U.S. Commitments Elsewhere

    The United States is a nation which sees that it is in its vital interest to deter autocrats from adventurism and challenges to the world order. Drawing lessons from the narrow case of Afghanistan to speak about broad U.S. resolve or credibility comes with an inherent risk that adversaries may choose to ignore at their own peril.

    Aug 25, 2021

  • Blog

    Insights on Afghanistan, Back to School, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the collapse in Afghanistan, what parents think about sending kids back to school, insights from game theory on North Korean denuclearization, and more.

    Aug 20, 2021

  • U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Newman watches the sunrise after a patrol mission near Zabul, Afghanistan, March 19, 2009, photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Mancini/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Applying Machiavellian Discourses to the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

    After 20 years of war without victory in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it is time to derive key lessons from both conflicts to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Niccolò Machiavelli, whose insights on statecraft have endured for five centuries, is a valuable guide in analyzing those lessons.

    Aug 9, 2021

  • Blog

    Historic Lynchings and Voter Registration, China in Space, Firefighters' Mental Health: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the link between historic lynchings and voter registration, Afghanistan in the era of fentanyl, supporting firefighters’ mental health, and more.

    Jul 30, 2021

  • Raw opium from a poppy head is seen at a farmer's field on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, April 28, 2015, photo by Parwiz/Reuters

    Report

    Afghanistan in the Era of Fentanyl

    Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are displacing heroin in some major drug markets. What might happen to Afghanistan—the world's largest producer of illegal opium poppy—if demand for its opiates dropped off sharply and permanently?

    Jul 26, 2021

  • A U.S. Army reenlistment ceremony held at Baghdad's Cross Sabers

    Report

    Securing Gains in Fragile States: Using U.S. Leverage in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Beyond

    This report evaluates U.S. options for stabilizing conflict-affected states by incentivizing governance reforms through military and development assistance in the context of U.S. military interventions.

    Jun 15, 2021

  • The colors are retired during a ceremony marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq in Baghdad on December 15, 2011, photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/U.S. Department of Defense

    Report

    Using U.S. Leverage to Limit Instability in Fragile States

    The United States can effectively support governance reforms in postconflict states by seizing on opportunities when partner interests align with U.S. interests. And it can use its leverage, including conditions on military and economic assistance, when interests do not align.

    Jun 15, 2021

  • Blog

    COVID-19 Disinformation, Biden's Address, Leaving Afghanistan: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Russian and Chinese campaigns to spread malign and subversive information on COVID-19, President Biden's address to Congress, the planned U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and more.

    Apr 30, 2021

  • President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi behind him, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2021, photo by Melina Mara/Reuters

    Blog

    Biden's First Address to Congress: Insights from RAND

    President Joe Biden addressed a joint session of Congress, summarizing his administration's early COVID-19 response and outlining plans that aim to loosen the pandemic's year-long grip on a weary nation. The speech reflected the fact that the United States faces policy challenges across a wide range of domains.

    Apr 29, 2021

  • Soldiers in 3rd Platoon, Combat Company, 1-32 Infantry, return from a patrol near the villages of Tsapre and Aybat, Afghanistan, April 1, 2007, photo by Army Spc. Jon H. Arguello/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    To Lose a War

    The result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will be a blow to American credibility and a weakening of deterrence and the value of American reassurance elsewhere. It will also result in an increased terrorist threat emanating from the Afghan region, and the distinct possibility of a necessary return there one day under worse conditions.

    Apr 26, 2021

  • Blog

    Game Theory to Help the Vaccine Rollout, Abraham Accords, Telehealth: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how game theory can help the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, potential economic benefits of the Abraham Accords, telemedicine use during the pandemic, and more.

    Mar 19, 2021

  • Delegates attend talks between Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Biden Administration's Afghanistan Challenge

    American efforts to speed up plodding Afghan peace talks seem unlikely to produce results fast enough to facilitate a withdrawal of remaining American and NATO forces by May 1. But the initiative could prove beneficial if it impels the two Afghan sides to at least begin engaging on the principles upon which an expanded government should operate.

    Mar 16, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Commentary: Securing the Least Bad Outcome: The Options Facing Biden on Afghanistan

    President Biden must decide whether to withdraw the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan to meet a May 1 deadline. The consequences of the decision will decide the fate of Afghanistan and signal the U.S.' broader strategic intentions.

    Mar 12, 2021

  • U.S. soldiers and airmen enter an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter at an Afghan National Army combat outpost in Afghanistan on June 23, 2015, photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Getting Out of Forever Wars: What Are Biden's Options in Afghanistan?

    U.S. counterterrorism strategy has long been driven by the assumption that security at home depends on fighting terrorists abroad. How will that square with the president's pledge to end forever wars? Is it possible to get out of warfighting without shutting down vital counterterrorist operations?

    Mar 12, 2021

  • Blog

    Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, COVID-19 Variants, Myanmar: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on alternatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military, how couples can sleep better during the pandemic, and more.

    Feb 12, 2021

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, signs an agreement with Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Afghanistan: Give Peace a Chance

    The timetable set out in the Afghan peace agreement was always unrealistically ambitious. If the Biden administration postpones the May withdrawal of U.S. troops, then this could provide the two Afghan sides more time to address core issues that must be resolved if any settlement is to stick.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Blog

    Schools and COVID-19, Health Care Resources, Leaving Afghanistan: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on allocating scarce but lifesaving resources during a pandemic, insights from America’s educators, the lopsided telework revolution, and more.

    Nov 20, 2020