Tag Archives: Counterterrorism


Avoiding the ‘Graveyard of Empire’ Syndrome’

by Ehsan Ahrari on October 30, 2010, No Comments

The administration of President Barack Obama is near fixated about not getting stuck in Afghanistan–the well-known "graveyard of empires." That may be one reason why he is so persistent about not getting involved in the long-term process of nation-building, which is also full of too many hidden landmines. That is why he is so persistent about telling all his advisors, "I'm not 'nation-building' in Afghanistan." How else would he win in Afghanistan? A cursory description of the Obama administration handling of the war in Afghanistan gives one a vivid description of how driven President Obama really is about getting out of Afghanistan. In a way that is refreshing when one recalls how obsessive George W. Bush was about invading–that is getting embroiled in–Iraq. But the stark contrast between the passions of these two presidents leads to the same outcome: America's continued involvement in two very dangerous places, except prospects of winning in Afghanistan appear dim at best. (mo

Al-Qaida’s Long Reach and the Need for a “Smart” American Approach Toward Terrorism

by Ehsan Ahrari on May 4, 2010, No Comments

In my lectures and speeches all over the world on the issue of transnational terrorism, I used to proudly point out that American Muslims are immune to any contagious influence by al-Qaida or any other terrorist group. I had many reasons for saying so, but the foremost of which was the fact that American Muslims were much more integrated in the American achievement-oriented culture than their counterparts anywhere in the West. But in my heart, I had uneasy feelings about my own claim, because I have not seen the kind of cultural integration among the Muslim community that I think is a precondition of emerging as an American. The recent incidents involving Major Hasan Nidal, Colleen LaRose ("Jihad Jane), Najibullah Zazi, Faisal Shahzad and other American-born Muslims proved that my unease was not unfounded. As much as I have been emphasizing the propaganda power of the Internet in my lectures and writings, I was caught off guard about its deleterious role in radicalizing American Mu

A New Strategy or Following Your Own Advice

by Ehsan Ahrari on October 9, 2009, 1 Comment

As President Barack H. Obama is edging toward making up his mind about accepting, partially accepting, or not accepting General Stanley McChrystal's advice to insert more troops in Afghanistan, I hear an abundance of metaphors flying.  One metaphor was used by the candidate Obama himself during the presidential campaign, when he described starting the war in Iraq to driving a bus into ditch.  That metaphor is being reprinted (recently by the New York Times).  Rory Stewart, a Professor at Harvard and an opponent of the option of increasing the troops, is using the metaphor "driving off a cliff."  Steven Biddle, a Fellow at CFR, calls it "a war that is worth waging, but only barely." John Nagle, who built his reputation by being one of General David Petraeus' assistants, and a person whose doctoral dissertation was on counterinsurgency (and a very good read), calls the war in Afghanistan "a better war."  The debate within the Principals Committee in the White House is reported to be

Pakistan Between A Rock And A Hard Place

by Ehsan Ahrari on September 21, 2008, 1 Comment

Pakistan's newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari's speech to the parliament on September 20, 2008 is the continuation of an old balancing act.  However, there are certain differences and similarities between the actions taken by his predecessor, General Pervez Musharraf, in the post-9/11 era, and the one taken by the current government.  But the implications for the long-term stability of Pakistan are grave.   (more…)