May 24, 2016
Successful outcomes in armed conflict require confronting illicit networks. A failure to do so effectively frustrated efforts to consolidate gains in Afghanistan and Iraq, and after more than a decade of war and development, the international community and the governments of those countries, continue to contend with the violence and instability that are the result. In Afghanistan, corruption and organized crime networks perpetuate state weakness and undermine the state’s ability to cope with the regenerative capacity of the Taliban. The failure to counter militias and Iranian proxies that infiltrated the government and security forces in Iraq led to a return of large scale communal violence and set conditions (along with the Syrian Civil War) for the rise of a terrorist proto-state and a humanitarian catastrophe that has adversely impacted the entire Middle East. These and other cases illustrate how governments and international actors struggle to establish security and rule of law, and reveal incomplete plans and fragmented efforts that fail to address the causes of violence and state weakness.