Stephen Watts

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Stephen Watts is a senior political scientist and associate director for Defense and Political Science at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. His research has focused on insurgency and counterinsurgency, stability and peace operations, security sector assistance, and political development in the wake of civil wars. He formerly held fellowships at Harvard University’s Belfer Center and the Brookings Institution and served in the U.S. State Department. This essay is drawn from a lengthier report, "Identifying and Mitigating Risks in Security Sector Assistance for Africa’s Fragile States."

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Foreign Policy Essay

A Competing Risks Approach to Security Sector Assistance for Fragile States

Editor's Note: Helping other countries' militaries and intelligence services is a vital part of whatever we're calling the war on terrorism these days. These programs, however, are often seen as one of two extremes: a panacea or an afterthought. Steve Watts of RAND calls for treating these programs with the analytic seriousness they deserve. He notes the range of potential problems and recommends using risk assessments to think about security sector assistance in a more sophisticated way.

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Foreign Policy Essay

In Afghanistan, the Glass is Still Better Seen as Half Full: A Response to Gary Owen

Editor's Note: In the latest entry in our ongoing dialogue on the future of Afghanistan, Stephen Watts and Sean Mann respond to Gary Owen's critique of their piece on the future of Afghanistan, arguing that although things may not be going "great" in Afghanistan, the picture is not quite as bleak as Owen makes it out to be.

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Foreign Policy Essay

Afghanistan After the Drawdown

Editor’s Note: Afghanistan was once the poster child for the war on terrorism but, almost 15 years after the fall of the Taliban, many Americans see it as yet another failed intervention in the greater Middle East. However, Stephen Watts and Sean Mann of RAND argue that the glass is half full. The United States and its allies have achieved several notable successes and can, for a modest investment, preserve some of the gains made in Afghanistan and keep the door open for even greater long-term success there.

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