September 18, 2015

Soldiers use the term kinetic force to describe the firing of bullets, bombs and artillery. Non-soldiers often think of the business of war as entirely about the kinetic. But it's not just about this hard power. The role of Influence is often more important than anything.

China’s public offer to mediate peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government marks a notable departure in Chinese foreign policy. It is the first time Beijing is taking a genuine leadership role, on its own initiative, on a geopolitical issue both sensitive and significant.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft over Mars.

Insight into a communications trick of the trade from UNDP's Stanislav Saling.

In less than two weeks, Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, will head to London to meet with international donors. At the conference, scheduled for Dec. 4, he will seek billions of dollars to develop Afghanistan in a new era, as U.S. and international combat troops are preparing to withdraw by year's end. Afghanistan is facing a fiscal crisis; it recently ran out of money to pay salaries of civil servants.

According to counterinsurgency strategist David Galula, the clearest way to take support away from an insurgent is to hold successful elections. Elections are the most visible way a population demonstrates their choice for the government rather than the insurgent. 

An Afghan man votes in Khost Province, Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Commander Joshua Frey on fighting insurgents with democratic elections.

Now Malala Yousafzai’s voice has been amplified by the peace prize. Maybe Pakistan’s leaders will hear it at last.

Bringing a stable source of electricity to Kandahar, the cradle of the hardline Islamist movement and once a base for its leader Mullah Omar, was a top U.S. "counter-insurgency priority" as Washington pursued its policy of winning "hearts and minds". But regular power in the city is still years away, and when the United States finally ends subsidies - currently running at just over $1 million a month - in September 2015, Kandahar could lose around half its severely limited electricity supplies, Afghan power officials and U.S. inspectors say.