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“A skillful combination of antiterrorism fireworks with perceptive analysis of our strategies”

February 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews had a very nice review of Find Fix Finish:

International terrorists rarely make headlines today, write the authors, but senior national security advisor Peritz and Defense Department counterterrorism expert Rosenbach emphasize that this success required much pain, and the end is not in sight.

Post–World War II Islamic terrorism worried U.S. leaders but produced no coherent policy. Burned by the failed 1980 Iranian hostage rescue and 1993 Black Hawk Down massacre, military leaders insisted their forces not be involved. Budget cuts, little capacity for paramilitary action and unimaginative leadership hampered the CIA. Ironically, solving the 1993 World Trade Center bombing persuaded the FBI that its low-priority counterterrorism system was working. The events of 9/11 produced an avalanche of money and action, which have chipped away at terrorist networks, forcing them to concentrate on smaller, less-risky local attacks, locally planned, mostly by disaffected individuals. The authors provide step-by-step accounts of the capture or killing of dozens of terrorists, almost always in cooperation with other nations, principally Pakistan.

Read more…


Publishers Weekly Review for “Find Fix Finish”

January 26, 2012

Publishers Weekly is first out of the gate for their review of Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda:

Peritz, senior national security adviser to the Third Way think tank, and Rosenbach, deputy assistant secretary of defense, draw on their work with the CIA and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence respectively, for this behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of counterterrorism tactics since 9/11. They begin by noting that America lacked a strategy to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda” in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Moreover, a comprehensive strategy—combining counterinsurgency operations (COIN) and “targeted counterterrorism operations…to find, fix, and finish” al-Qaeda leaders—emerged fitfully in “painful, halting steps” over the decade following the attack. Focusing on counterterrorism operations, the authors note that the program initially sought to finish al-Qaeda leaders by taking them alive.

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Hey look! We’re #1 on the Belfer website!

August 1, 2011

An Introduction to Pakistan’s Military

August 1, 2011

A new report that I co-authored with Francisco Aguilar, Randy Bell, Sayce Falk, Natalie Black and Sasha Rogers on the Pakistan Military is hot off the presses:

The Pakistani military remains an opaque entity, both inside and outside of the country.  Few publicly available reports exist for those seeking a basic understanding of its leaders, functions, or allegiances.  An Introduction to Pakistan’s Military is the first of two Belfer Center reports examining the Pakistani military.  To assemble this report, the authors interviewed over two-dozen retired Pakistani military officers, principally in Islamabad and Karachi.  The authors also conducted nearly forty additional interviews with Pakistani politicians, civil society actors, journalists, and military experts, as well as with US and European military, diplomatic, and intelligence officers and analysts.

The first report examines Pakistan’s:

  • Overall strategic security and threat environment;
  • Military history since 1947;
  • Conventional military capabilities;
  • Nuclear strategy and security posture; and
  • Current counterinsurgency (COIN) efforts (briefly).

The second report will:

  • Explore in more detail Pakistan’s current counterinsurgency efforts;
  • Evaluate threats to internal cohesion and fears of Islamist infiltration into the Pakistani military;
  • Assess the traits of current and future Pakistani military leaders; and
  • Examine the relationship between the Pakistani military and the civilian government.

Read the whole report.

Time to rethink spy chief

July 18, 2011

I recently co-authored this article with my colleague Mieke Eoyang:

Does the United States really need an Office of the Director of National Intelligence to protect itself?

After all, Gen. David Petraeus, the most-lauded U.S. general in two generations, was confirmed by the Senate as CIA director June 30, and Leon Panetta — widely regarded as one of the most effective managers-who-is-also-a-Democrat — was sworn in as defense secretary July 1. The U.S. now has the national security dream team overseeing the vast majority of its intelligence community.

Better yet, there’s now a military man at the CIA and an intelligence guy at the Defense Department — so Petraeus and Panetta have a deep understanding of the other’s organization. Do they really need James Clapper, the current director of national intelligence, telling them how to “get along”? The answer, clearly, is no. The ODNI was a bad idea that hasn’t improved with age.

This isn’t meant as an attack on Clapper, a career intelligence officer who has succeeded in multiple government capacities. But between the twin Beltway behemoths of Petraeus and Panetta, Clapper — theoretically in charge of the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy — stands little chance of making his voice heard.

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“Strength at home means strength abroad”

June 27, 2011

From my Letter to the Editor in the Washington Post:

I disagree with Eugene Robinson’s characterization that President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan last week was “disheartening” [“A far-too-slow drawdown,” op-ed, June 24].

By focusing on troop numbers, most pundits missed the speech’s larger, deeper point: The president was advancing a strong centrist policy that articulated how America should make international policy decisions. Mr. Obama sidestepped the false choices of neoconservative military adventures and stultifying isolationist tendencies. Furthermore, the president fundamentally linked strength in the international area to strength at home: A strong home front means a nation able to fulfill its obligations abroad.

If this real-time formation of an emerging foreign policy doctrine isn’t heartening, I’m not sure what is.

“With Friends Like These…”

May 26, 2011

a new opinion piece that I wrote about Pakistan, Proxies and the People’s Republic…

As US lawmakers continue to debate whether to continue to fund Pakistan to the tune of $3 billion a year, many Americans are seriously reevaluating whether Pakistan is indeed a trustworthy partner. CIA Director Leon Panetta recently told US lawmakers Pakistani authorities are either “involved or incompetent” suggesting the country’s ability to maintain a coherent national security strategy that benefits American interests is questionable at best. Still, cutting the country off ultimately will have worse outcomes for the US since suspending aid will force Islamabad to rely even more on militant proxies and China to serve its baseline security requirements.

Read more…