The Civilian Elements of the New U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan

November 8, 2017 - 3:00 pm

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th ST NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC

The Civilian Elements of the New U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan

A conversation with:

Ahmad Nader Nadery
Chairman of Civil Service Commission
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Vanda Felbab-Brown 
Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence
   Brookings Institution

Ambassador James B. Cunningham 
Non-Resident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center
Atlantic Council

Moderated by:
Javid Ahmad
Non-Resident Fellow, South Asia Center
Atlantic Council

Despite an overwhelming response to the United States’ new military strategy for Afghanistan announced by President Trump in August 2017, the non-military components of the strategy have received scant attention.
As part of its ambitious reform and self-reliance agenda, the Afghan government has made considerable progress towards improving the capacity of civilian management, leadership, human resources, as well as in addressing formal corruption. But challenges remain.
Please join the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center for a panel discussion of the civilian elements of the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, including the reform process, internal politics, economics, and how the Afghan government plans to deliver on its pledges. 

On Twitter? Follow @AtlanticCouncil @ACSouthAsia use #ACSouthAsia

Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 
Washington, DC 

This event is open to press and on the record.


Mr. Ahmad Nader Nadery is chairman of Afghanistan’s civil service commission and is senior advisor to the President on Strategic Affairs. He also serves as Ambassador At-large for Freedom of Expression. Prior to joining the government, Mr. Nadery served as director of Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Afghanistan's globally ranked think tank. He is also the founder and was chairman of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan. He served for seven years as Commissioner of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Additionally, Mr. Nadery was chairman of the board of directors of Open Society Foundation-Afghanistan and represented Afghan youth at the main United Nations peace talks for Afghanistan in the Bonn Conference in 2001, where the Post-Taliban interim government was formed. Prior to AIHRC, he served as the director of Afghanistan programs of Global Rights, a Washington-based organization, and served as the spokesperson for the Emergency Loya Jirga that elected the head of the transitional government in 2002. Mr. Nadery has written extensively on politics, human rights, women’s rights and democracy in Afghanistan. He is also serving as member of Global Agenda Council on Fragile State of World Economic Forum, has led No Peace without Justice Support missions in Libya for two years after the 2012 revolution, and is a member of Board of Editors of the International Journal on Transitional Justice, appearing regularly on the BBC, New York Times, Washington Post and other national and international media. He has received a number of international awards for his work of promoting democracy and human rights. Mr. Nadery studied law and political science at Kabul University and earned his master’s degree in international relations from George Washington University. He also studied leadership at the Kennedy school at Harvard University.

Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown is a senior fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institute. She is also the Director of the Brookings project, “Improving Global Drug Policy: Comparative Perspectives Beyond UNGASS 2016,” and co-director of another Brookings project, “Reconstituting Local Orders.” Dr. Felbab-Brown is an expert on international and internal conflicts and nontraditional security threats, including insurgency, organized crime, urban violence, and illicit economies. Her fieldwork and research have covered, among others, Afghanistan, South Asia, Burma, Indonesia, the Andean region, Mexico, Morocco, Somalia, and eastern Africa. Dr. Felbab-Brown is the author of The Extinction Market: Wildlife Trafficking and How to Counter It, Narco Noir: Mexico’s Cartels, Cops, and Corruption, Militants, Criminals, and Outsiders: The Challenge of Local Governance in an Age of Disorder, Aspiration and Ambivalence: Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan, and Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs. She is also the author of numerous policy reports, academic articles, and opinion pieces. A frequent commentator in US and international media, Dr. Felbab-Brown regularly provides congressional testimony on these issues. She has also been the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of her scholarly and policy contributions. Dr. Felbab-Brown received her PhD in political science from MIT and her BA in government from Harvard University.

Ambassador James B. Cunningham joined the Atlantic Council in May 2015 as a senior fellow in the South Asia Center and the Zalmay Khalilzad chair on Afghanistan. He served as ambassador to Afghanistan (August 2012 to December 2014), and as deputy ambassador (2011 – 2012). He was ambassador to Israel (2008 -2011), consul general for Hong Kong and Macau (2005 – 2008), ambassador and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations in New York (1999 – 2004), and acting permanent representative to the United Nations for the first nine months of 2001, including on 9/11. After early tours in Stockholm, Washington, Rome, and the US Mission to NATO, NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner selected Ambassador Cunningham as his chief of staff (1988 – 1990). He advised the Secretary General on all NATO issues in the context of nuclear disarmament in Europe, the collapse of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany, and the impending dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union. Just after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Ambassador Cunningham became deputy political counselor at the US Mission to the United Nations. In 1992, he became the deputy director of the State Department Office of European Security and Political Affairs (1992 – 1993) and then director (1993 – 1995). He served as deputy chief of mission at the Embassy in Rome (1996 – 1999). Ambassador Cunningham is the recipient of multiple awards from the State Department, the National Performance Review's Hammer Award for Innovation in Management, the US President's Meritorious Service Award (twice), and has received awards from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Secretary of Defense, and the Afghan government. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Asia Society. Ambassador Cunningham retired from government service in December 2014 with the rank of career minister.

Mr. Javid Ahmad is a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center and a nonresident fellow with the Modern War Institute at West Point, where he researches and publishes on pressing security, counterterrorism, and socioeconomic issues in South Asia. He also works with the US government on the region. Previously, he worked with iJET International, a risk management firm, where he managed a fifteen-member team of intelligence analysts and provided analytical content and assessments to business and government clients. He has also served as a senior policy adviser to Afghanistan's minister of finance, focusing on devising policies and strategies on anti-money-laundering and counterterrorism financing issues. Prior to that, Javid worked on South Asia for the Pentagon’s Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands program and the US Naval Postgraduate School. He also worked as a program coordinator for Asia for the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a Washington-based think tank. In addition, he has worked for the NATO headquarters in Brussels and Voice of America in Washington. He has also worked on governance issues for organizations in Kabul. Javid’s writing has appeared, inter alia, in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy,, Foreign Affairs, the National Interest, and the Daily Beast. He has a BA in international relations from Beloit College and an MA in security studies from Yale University.