AUTHORS ON ASIA - Tuesday, Nov 19

Aspiration and Ambivalence: Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan

Limited COMPLIMENTARY Seating for Harvard Club members

Dear Harvard Club members and alumns,

Our friends at The Asia Society have invited you to 'Aspiration and Ambivalence' on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 for a 7 p.m. program.  They have reserved limited free seating for Harvard alumns and their guests and those registered with our club one day before the event will receive complimentary seats.  Registration begins at 6:30 and the program starts at 7 pm.  The Asia Society is conveniently located at 1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston 77004.  Take advantage of this opportunity by clicking on the link below to register.

To sign up for the complimentary seats, register by today, Tuesday - click HERE.


After more than a decade of great effort and sacrifice by America and its allies, the Taliban still has not been defeated, and many Afghans believe that a civil war is coming. Aspiration and Ambivalence analyzes the U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan and offers detailed recommendations for dealing with the precarious situation leading up to the 2014 transition to Afghan control and beyond.

Vanda Felbab-Brown argues that allied efforts in Afghanistan have put far too little emphasis on good governance, concentrating too much on short-term military goals to the detriment of long-term peace and stability. The Western tendency to ally with bullies, warlords, smugglers, and other shady characters in pursuit of short-term military advantage actually empowers the forces working against good governance and long-term political stability. Rampant corruption and mafia rule thus persist, making it impossible for Afghans to believe in the institutional reforms and rule of law that are clearly necessary. This must change—otherwise, the chances of building responsive and sustainable governmental structures are slim, indeed.

About the Author
Vanda Felbab-Brown is a senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. She 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, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Andean region, Mexico, Morocco, Somalia, and eastern Africa.

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Julia Bailey
Harvard University Club of Houston

For questions or assistance, contact club administrator Maureen Garnett at