"Roy Gutman, a tireless reporter, has written a deeply researched and fascinating account of the various U.S. foreign policy failures that helped account for the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks. Gutman also explains how so many institutions in the United States, from the media to the national security establishment, largely missed what would turn out to be one of the most important stories of our time."

Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know

 
"In a detailed account and analysis of Afghanistan events after the Soviet military left in 1989, Roy Gutman shows how the world’s abandonment of interest in the country led not only to horrors there but also to the spread of terrorism worldwide. His book provides graphic and valuable background to today’s problems and a warning of tomorrow’s dangers from ignoring such troubled areas. A most impressive and interesting read."

Henry Bradsher, author of Afghanistan and the Soviet Union
 
 
"This well-written, on-the-mark book is an informative and entertaining read. No other study that examines the events leading up to 9/11 is as persuasive in placing the blame where it belongs—on the failure of three successive U.S. presidents to provide the foreign policy leadership and direction needed to address the politics, philosophy, and disposition to violence of Islamist extremism."

Thomas E. Gouttierre, University of Nebraska, Omaha
 
 
"In the early 1990s, the United States turned a blind eye to the civil strife in Afghanistan. In How We Missed the Story, Roy Gutman traces U.S. inaction amidst civil war, the Taliban’s ascension, and Osama bin Laden’s rise in riveting detail. To truly understand and combat the threat we face, Gutman’s exploration of missed opportunities and lessons learned is essential reading."

Lee Hamilton, President and Director, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group and vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission
 
 
"Roy Gutman has succeeded admirably in exposing the missed opportunities and serious errors of U.S. policymakers that led them to misjudge the threat that became all too real on September 11, 2001. Writing in a highly informative and readable style, he explores many of the intelligence failures and policy predispositions that are not so clearly or so thoroughly examined elsewhere. Additionally, his extensive and well-chosen interviews offer new insights and convey scholarly objectivity."

Marvin Weinbaum, Middle East Institute 

Latest Publications

Four Thoughts on Advancing Religious Engagement in Diplomacy and Development

Four Thoughts on Advancing Religious Engagement in Diplomacy and Development

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.

After nearly 20 years and across three successive U.S. administrations, it is clear that a bipartisan consensus exists among senior foreign affairs leadership that engaging religious actors to advance key American diplomatic, national security, and development objectives needs to be a priority. With some 84 percent of the world’s population expressing a faith affiliation, the role of religion as a social force around the world—and one that figures centrally in many peacebuilding contexts—cannot be ignored in our foreign relations.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion

Knox Thames on the State of Global Religious Freedom

Knox Thames on the State of Global Religious Freedom

Monday, November 30, 2020

By: Knox Thames

As global restrictions on faith reach all-time highs, USIP’s Knox Thames say the United States must continue to be a vocal leader in combatting persecution and pursuing religious freedom, saying, “I think the time is right … anything we say goes out like a megaphone to the rest of the world.”

Type: Podcast

Religion

Ethiopia’s Problems Will Not End with a Military Victory

Ethiopia’s Problems Will Not End with a Military Victory

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

By: Aly Verjee

As violence continues over control of the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, Ethiopia’s future remains unsettled, even if the conflict ends soon. Achieving the federal government’s security objectives in Tigray is unlikely to resolve both new and entrenched political challenges, and already delayed national elections, now expected in 2021, may prove a severe test of Ethiopia’s political order, and consequently affect broader regional stability. Reconciling the electoral process with efforts for reconciliation and national dialogue is now even more imperative.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Human Rights Education as the Solution to Religious Persecution

Human Rights Education as the Solution to Religious Persecution

Monday, November 23, 2020

By: Knox Thames

Persecution on account of religion or belief confronts every community somewhere around the world—and it is an increasing trend. Challenges range from terrorist violence against minorities, such as ISIS’ depravations against Yazidis, to persecution by authoritarian governments, with China’s targeting of all faiths a prime example. To organize a defense of freedom of conscience and belief, the United States convened the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2018 and 2019, bringing together a virtual congress of nations and civil society activists from around the world. The third ministerial, organized by Poland, was held virtually in mid-November. Discussions identified challenges but also solutions. One consistent answer to the vexing problem of persecution was proffered: educating youth about human rights and pluralism.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion; Education & Training

Afghanistan Withdrawal Should Be Based on Conditions, Not Timelines

Afghanistan Withdrawal Should Be Based on Conditions, Not Timelines

Thursday, November 19, 2020

By: Scott Worden

The Taliban’s tactic of running out the clock on the U.S. troop presence may bear fruit after the announcement on Tuesday that U.S. forces will reduce to 2,500 by January 15. The Trump administration successfully created leverage by engaging directly with the Taliban to meet their paramount goal of a U.S. withdrawal in exchange for genuine peace talks and counterterrorism guarantees. This strategy brought about unprecedented negotiations between Afghan government representatives and the Taliban in Doha. A walk down a conditions-based path to peace, long and winding as it may be, had begun.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

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