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  • Commentary posted July 22, 2014 by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. American Diplomacy: Between a "Soft" and a "Hard" Place

    File it under “things you don’t see very often.” A press release from Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, declaring, “I appreciate the efforts of Secretary Kerry….” Accolades from across the aisle have been few and far between for an administration that has suffered an almost endless string of foreign-policy reversals since 2008. Indeed,…

  • Commentary posted June 16, 2014 by Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D. When war-weariness leads to more war

    President Obama is fond of saying he was elected to “end” wars, not start them. He clearly is tapping into Americans’ well-known weariness of wars and sees himself as merely carrying out their will. But there’s a problem. Americans may indeed be war-weary (although how much may be exaggerated), but that only means they assume Mr. Obama’s policies will actually end the…

  • Commentary posted April 8, 2014 by Lisa Curtis Afghan election: After encouraging turnout, Obama must stick with support for war-torn country

    Afghans went to the polls Saturday, but results won’t be in for at least another two weeks. If none of the candidates wins a majority of votes (the most likely scenario), a run-off election will have to be held probably in late May or early June. The Taliban did their best to deter voting and undermine the electoral process in Afghanistan. In the weeks running up to…

  • Commentary posted March 30, 2014 by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. Learn from Iraq: don’t abandon Afghanistan

    Former secretary of state, national security adviser and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger is, by all measures, a foreign policy heavy weight. At a recent black-tie dinner, he stood—stoop-shouldered and peering imperiously over his signature thick, black-frame glasses—and remarked: “Unilateral withdrawal is not victory.” Whom could he have been talking…

  • Issue Brief posted March 24, 2014 by Lisa Curtis Afghanistan–Pakistan: U.S. Must Ensure that Its Military Gear Does Not Exacerbate Regional Tensions

    After 12 years of fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan and failing to convince Pakistani leaders to crack down decisively on terrorist bases on their side of the border, American military planners are considering providing Pakistan with billions in leftover equipment from the war. A Washington Post story from last weekend indicates that U.S. military planners are…

  • Issue Brief posted February 11, 2014 by Lisa Curtis How to Ensure That a U.S. Troop Drawdown Does Not Destabilize Afghanistan

    The Obama Administration has lost confidence in the government in Afghanistan, and it is easy to understand why. After the loss of nearly 2,300 U.S. troops in 12 years of military operations and the investment of over $90 billion in U.S. reconstruction aid, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a security pact allowing for a residual U.S. force presence…

  • Commentary posted December 8, 2013 by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. Easter Seals has long served disabled veterans

    Christmas fast approaches. What better time, then, to write of Easter Seals. And veterans. Say what? The combination is not nearly as odd as it may sound. Let’s start with Easter Seals. It has long been one of America’s most well-known charities. The organization started in 1919 as a charity to help children with disabilities. In the early days, it was known…

  • Commentary posted December 3, 2013 by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. Obama's Afghanistan Soap Opera

    It sounds like a soap opera… and it might be nothing but theatrics after all. The very public back and forth over whether Afghanistan will adopt a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) allowing U.S. and NATO troops to remain in the country after 2014 has been dramatic, to say the least. After months of wrangling between Kabul and Washington, the pact was dumped on the Loya…

  • Commentary posted December 1, 2013 by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. America will pay for leaving the Haqqani devil in Afghanistan's den

    Jalaluddin Haqqani left a horrible legacy before he gave up active leadership of the Pakistan-based network of Islamist extremists he founded. Haqqani believed Muslims across the world had a duty to “offer themselves” to the cause of fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. And many answered his call. Was Haqqani's call the real seed of today's global Islamist…

  • Testimony posted November 7, 2013 by Lisa Curtis After the Withdrawal: The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Part II)

    Testimony before the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Committee on Foreign Affairs United States House of Representatives October 29, 2013 Lisa Curtis Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center The Heritage Foundation My name is Lisa Curtis. I am Senior Research Fellow on South Asia in the Asian Studies…

  • Backgrounder posted September 30, 2013 by Lisa Curtis U.S. Counternarcotics Policy: Essential to Fighting Terrorism in Afghanistan

    Afghanistan is the number one producer of opium (the raw material for heroin), producing over 90 percent of the world total.[1] Gross revenue from drugs is equal to about 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). When Pakistan transitioned from a drug-producing country to a drug-transit country and the Soviets occupied Afghanistan during the 1980s,…

  • Issue Brief posted July 23, 2013 by Luke Coffey Mi-17 Helicopters: The Best Choice for the Afghan Air Force and the U.S. Taxpayer

    As part of an ongoing process to ensure that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are ready and capable to take over the lead for security in Afghanistan by 2015, the U.S. has agreed to purchase up to 86 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters for future service in the Afghan Air Force (AAF). Many on Capitol Hill are questioning why the Department of Defense is buying…

  • Commentary posted July 16, 2013 by Lisa Curtis The Strategic Disconnect: There’s a Kayani in the Kerry-Khurshid Room

    US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to India this week focused largely on climate change and economic issues. From a US domestic perspective, this was no surprise. President Obama laid out Tuesday a sweeping plan for the US to address climate change and over 200 US Congressional leaders last week chastised India for discriminatory trade practices. In choosing this…

  • Issue Brief posted July 10, 2013 by Lisa Curtis Afghanistan: Zero Troops Should Not Be an Option

    The Obama Administration is considering leaving no U.S. troops behind in Afghanistan after it ends its combat mission there in 2014. This would undermine U.S. security interests, as it would pave the way for the Taliban to regain influence in Afghanistan and cripple the U.S. ability to conduct counterterrorism missions in the region. President Obama instead should commit…

  • Issue Brief posted February 22, 2013 by Luke Coffey U.S. Should Back a Robust Afghan National Security Force

    Overshadowed by the announcement in President Obama’s State of the Union address that 34,000 U.S. troops will be brought home from Afghanistan was an acknowledgement that the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) need to improve. The U.S. should argue that the ANSF should not be reduced in numbers as currently planned, and the White House should press…