America's Big Challenge: Finding the Off-Ramp in Iraq

Paul Pillar

Americans are not very good at ending their involvement in wars. No, that's not a pacifist statement about a need to stop fighting wars in general. It is instead an observation about how the United States, once it gets involved—for good or for ill—in any one war, has difficulty determining when and how to call it a day and go home. A major reason for this difficulty is that Americans are not Clausewitzians at heart. They tend not to see warfare as a continuation of policy by other means, but instead to think of war and peace as two very different conditions with clear dividing lines between them.

Americans thus are fine with wars that have as clear an ending as the surrenders of the Axis powers in World War II, which continues to be for many Americans the prototype of how a war should be begun, conceived, and concluded. But America's wars since then have not offered conclusions this satisfying. The one that came closest to doing so was Operation Desert Storm in 1991, which swiftly and decisively achieved its declared objective of reversing the Iraqi swallowing of Kuwait. Even that victory, however, left an unsatisfying aftertaste in some (mostly neocon) mouths, because Saddam Hussein remained in power in Baghdad.

It thus is difficult for U.S. leaders, even if they are capable of thinking in disciplined Clausewitzian terms, to explain and to justify to the American public, and to the political class that makes appeals to that public, the wrapping up of an overseas military involvement without a clear-cut, World War II-style victory. This is a problem no matter how well-founded and justified was the original decision to enter a war.

Other dynamics are commonly involved in such situations, including the one usually called mission creep—the tendency in an overseas military expedition for one thing to lead to another and for one's military forces gradually to take on jobs beyond the one that was the original reason for sending them overseas. Any nation can get sucked into mission creep, but Americans are especially vulnerable to it. The yearning for clear-cut and victorious conclusions to foreign military adventures is one reason. Others are the American tendencies to see any problem overseas as a problem for the superpower to deal with, and to expect that if the United States puts its minds and resources to the task it can solve any problem overseas.

Some insights about this subject can be gleaned from comparing two big recent U.S. military expeditions: the one in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 and the one in Afghanistan that began in 2001 and continues today. There is no comparison between the two regarding the original reasons for initiating them, and in that sense it is unfortunate how much the two came to be lumped together in subsequent discussion. One was a a war of aggression with a contrived and trumped-up rationale; the other was a direct and justified response to a lethal attack on the United States. Iraq really was the bad war and Afghanistan the good one. But as time and costs dragged on and Afghanistan became America's longest war ever, it gradually lost support among Americans and Afghans alike.

The failure in Afghanistan was in not finding, and taking, a suitable off-ramp. The off-ramp that should have been taken was reached within the first few months of the U.S. intervention, after the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack that was the reason for the intervention had been rousted from their home and their sometime allies, the Afghan Taliban, had been ousted from power. Regardless of what would have happened in Afghanistan after that, there would not have been a return to the pre-September 2001 situation there, both because the Taliban would have no reason to ally again with a bunch of Arab transnational terrorists who had brought about such a result, and because the United States's own rules of engagement changed so much that no such return would be allowed to occur whether or not U.S. troops were on the ground.

No good off-ramp was found with the Iraq War, and there never was going to be a really good one, given how ill-conceived the war was in the first place and how little thought the makers of the war had given to the post-invasion consequences. The U.S. administration that perpetrated the war did a political finesse of the problem, using a surge of force to reduce the violence in the civil war enough to be able to say that they did not leave Iraq falling apart, and then setting with the Iraqi government a schedule for U.S. withdrawal that would have to be implemented by the next administration. That set the stage, of course, for promoting the myth that the war had been “won” by the time power was handed over in the United States and for blaming the subsequent administration, when it duly implemented the withdrawal schedule it had been given, for all the later indications that the war clearly had not been “won.”

It also set the stage, now that the United States has troops back in Iraq, for talk about the need for a "long-term American presence" to avoid repeating the supposed mistake of cutting and running. How long is “long-term” does not get specified. In other words, no off-ramp is identified. In other words, it's again the familiar problem of not knowing how and when to wind up involvement in a foreign war. The error committed in Afghanistan, of missing the ramp and turning what had been a justified response to an attack on the U.S. homeland into an endless attempt at nation-building in a country thousands of miles away, risks being repeated in Iraq.

The problem of ISIS—the reason for the latest intervention in Iraq—will go away, but not in a sufficiently clear-cut manner to satisfy the American yearning for victory and for drawing bright lines to mark the division between war and peace. There won't be a surrender ceremony on the deck of a tugboat, let alone a battleship. The Obama administration needs to articulate as clearly and specifically as possible what the off-ramp will look like—a formulation such as “ultimately destroy” ISIS doesn't cut it. Public opinion needs to be prepared for a departure from Iraq that makes sense in terms of the specific U.S. interests served while being much less satisfying than securing someone's unconditional surrender or complete and unambiguous destruction. If departure is not to come from anything but impatience and exhaustion, the only other alternative is an endless U.S. military presence.

And an endless presence is no solution at all. It certainly is not from the standpoint of wise use of U.S. resources. Nor would it be from the standpoint of solving Iraq's problems, given how any such solution depends on political accommodation of differences among Iraqis themselves, and given the resentments that arise from the inevitable damaging effects of the use of U.S. military force—another lesson from the war in Afghanistan.             

Image: U.S. Marines Flickr.

TopicsIraq Afghanistan RegionsMiddle East

On ISIS AUMF, Washington Post Strikes Out

The Buzz

Although it took over four months for the U.S. Congress to act, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally did their due diligence during the last week of the 113th Congress, passing an ISIL-specific authorization for the use of military force along a strict 10-8 party-line vote.  The resolution reported out of the committee—which establishes a 3-year time limit for President Obama and his successor to conduct combat operations against the terrorist group—is dead in the water and could possibly be replaced by a new authorization this month, now that Republicans are in full control of the Senate.

There is a lot to critique in the resolution, including whether it provides the commander-in-chief with enough resources and flexibility to take on ISIL.  U.S. ground troops, for instance, are prohibited except for very narrow missions and circumstances, such as the rescue of U.S. personnel, the collection of intelligence, “enabling kinetic strikes,” and presumably spotting U.S. airstrikes on ISIL targets.

Yet, like all legislation produced by a divided government, the AUMF is a compromise between Republicans like Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio who want virtually unlimited authority for the Commander-in-Chief, and Democrats like Robert Menendez and Tim Kaine who fear another open-ended resolution similar to the 2001 authorization against al-Qaeda.

The Washington Post editorial board is one of those entities complaining about the Foreign Relations Committee’s final product, and the paper is casting its lot with the McCain/Rubio camp.  Before rightly admonishing congressional Republicans and the Obama administration for battling each other over who should make the first move, last month’s editorial openly questions whether the Foreign Relations Committee tied the president’s hands behind his back.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), one of the few in Congress to push hard for an authorizing vote, argues that if U.S. troops were needed to head off an attack on the United States — the circumstance Mr. Obama has cited that would alter his own opposition to combat forces — the president could act under his constitutional authority. That dodges the more simple and sensible conclusion that Congress’s role is to authorize wars and their aims, not micromanage how they are waged.”

Hawkish Republicans would no doubt agree with this conclusion, particularly when the enemy that the United States is fighting has no compunction of rounding up and executing hundreds of people and selling young girls as sex slaves.  Yet, with that fact aside, is The Post accurate when they argue that Congress should simply authorize war, and not micromanage its conduct?  Contemporary history would suggest that it’s not: the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, which essentially granted the president broad, if not unlimited, authority to wage an armed conflict are an aberration, not the rule.

Below is a short list of AUMFs that Congress has drafted and passed over the past thirty years.  Some were signed into law by the president at the time, others were passed through committee but not taken up by the full House and Senate, and another (in the case of Somalia in 1993) was passed by both houses of Congress but not signed into law.  As you will see, each of these authorizations contains conditions, restrictions, and limits on the president’s use of force, including how long force can be used and what the president can and cannot do with U.S. ground troops.  Congress, in other words, considers “micromanaging” part of the job description.

- Multinational Force in Lebanon Resolution (October 12, 1983): Acting under its Article I, Section 8 powers, Congress passed this resolution in order to authorize continued U.S. military involvement in the Multinational Force in Lebanon, which at the time was attempting to hold the tiny, coastal Arab country together amidst a raging ethnic and sectarian civil war.  Under the resolution, however, U.S. soldiers on Lebanese soil were prohibited from going beyond the peacekeeping and stabilization role requested by the Government of Lebanon.  And, like the 3-year timetable that the Foreign Relations Committee included in the ISIL AUMF last month—which The Post so vehemently disagrees with—the 1983 resolution cuts off U.S. involvement in Lebanon after 18 months.  Like all time restrictions, the 18-month provision assured that Congress would have the power to evaluate whether more U.S. involvement was required to complete the mission or whether the strategy needed to change in order to accomplish the objective.

- Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (January 14, 1991): The resolution that kicked off Operation Desert Storm, signed by President George H.W. Bush 48 hours before major coalition operations against Saddam Hussein began, was only two pages long.  But even this resolution placed limitations on the commander-in-chief:

The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677.”

In other words, President Bush was permitted to use the U.S. military to achieve a single, overarching objective: driving the Iraqi army out of Kuwait.  Anything beyond that narrow objective, such as overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime, was theoretically out of bounds.  Fortunately for Bush 41, regime change in Iraq was not in the cards.

- Authorization for the Use of United States Armed Forces in Somalia (1993): In the midst of a U.S.-led UN humanitarian aid mission in a chaotic Somalia, the Senate and House provided President Bill Clinton with the statutory authority to continue using U.S. military forces inside the country.  By the time the full Congress passed the document, however, President Clinton was already well on his way to withdrawing all U.S. troops from Somalia, which eventually occurred in March 1994.

-Authorization for the Use of United States Armed Forces in Support of the NATO Mission in Libya (June 21, 2011): On March 28, 2011, President Obama spoke to the American people in a prime-time address in an attempt to explain why he decided to deploy U.S. air power against Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi.  Obama framed his decision as a tough but morally sound choice to stave off a massacre in the city of Benghazi.  “We knew that if we…waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world,” Obama said in his address.  “It was not in our national interest to let that happen.  I refused to let that happen.”

Many in Congress, however, were upset about the Obama administration’s unwillingness to seek clear-cut statutory authorization.  Speaker John Boehner pushed through a House resolution condemning Obama’s sidestepping of Congress on the issue, which called the president’s campaign in Libya “unauthorized,” a sharp rebuke to the executive branch and a strong defense from the House of its congressional powers under Article 1, Section 8 of the constitution.  

Three weeks after Boehner’s resolution passed, Senator John Kerry—who at that time served as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—tried his best to codify the U.S. military mission in Libya into law.  The authorization cleared the committee, and if the full Senate ever took it up, the resolution would have made the heads of The Washington Post’s editorial board spin.  The president’s authority would have expired after one year and the resolution would have expressly oppose the deployment of U.S. armed forces inside Libya for any purposes other than rescuing U.S. or NATO personnel.   

-Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria To Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons (September 6, 2013): President Obama’s policy on Syria has since been associated with the infamous red-line fiasco, but it’s important to note that before the White House backed down from striking the Assad regime in favor of a diplomatic settlement, Obama was serious enough about using military force to ask Congress for an authorization.  On August 31, 2013, Obama read a statement in the Rose Garden formally asking Congress to debate and approve the use of U.S. military force inside Syria in response to Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack on civilians outside of Damascus.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee got to work immediately on the request, hammering out a resolution that is perhaps one of the most restrictive in the entire history of the AUMF process.

The president, according to the resolution, is authorized to use U.S. armed forces “in a limited and specified manner against legitimate military targets in Syria.”  That language is highly conditional and tailored to what the Foreign Relations Committee hoped would be a quick, multi-day military operation.  The language gets even more detailed, however, when you factor in other conditions: U.S. force is not to weaken the Assad regime, but to respond to Syria’s employment of chemical weapons.  The authorization also banned U.S. ground troops for combat operations, and would have expired after a total of 90 days, when the president would either have to stop operations altogether or come back to Congress and ask for an extension.

Why make a big deal over a resolution that will most likely be ignored and replaced by the new Republican-led Foreign Relations Committee?  Well, it’s simple: if we don’t understand how AUMFs have been constructed in the past, we won’t be able to evaluate whether Congress and the White House are playing their respective roles under the constitution.  The Washington Post would prefer that Congress simply authorize military force and get out of the way.  History, however, would beg to differ.

Daniel R. DePetris is an analyst at Wikistrat, Inc., a geostrategicconsulting firm, and a freelance researcher. He has also written for, Small Wars Journal and The Diplomat. You can follow him on Twitter: @DanDePetris.

Image: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

TopicsDomestic PoliticsTerrorism RegionsMiddle East

If Cyberattacks Are Terror, Who’s the Biggest Terrorist?

The Buzz

Recently, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared on CNN’sState of the Union where he proposed placing North Korea on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Menendez contended that the additional sanctionsannounced by the White House last week were insufficient, and that “we need to look at putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which would have far more pervasive consequences.” Beyond claiming this would have additional consequences for North Korea, he disagreed with President Obama’s characterization of the alleged Sony hack as “an act of cyber vandalism”:

“Vandalism is when you break a window. Terrorism is when you destroy a building. And what happened here is that North Korea landed a virtual bomb on Sony’s parking lot, and ultimately had real consequences to it as a company and to many individuals who work there.”

I recently wrote a piece that questioned the wisdom of placing North Korea on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, given that—according to the State Department—the “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987.” There is no question that North Korean agents engage in any number of malicious and even violent actions in South Korea and beyond, which might be labeled by some as acts of “terrorism.” However, the U.S. Secretary of State, who is empowered under the 1979 legislation to determine which countries should be included on the list, concluded that North Korea should not be on the list, and, in fact, the Bush administration removed the country in 2008. Moreover, just as removing North Korea from the list did not open up the country to U.S. exports given the multitude of overlapping sanctions and restrictions, placing them back on it will not have any demonstrable impact.

There are two other points worth mentioning. First, the State Sponsors of Terrorism list was explicitly intended to deal with countries that “aid, encourage, or give sanctuary to those persons involved in directing, supporting, or participating in acts of international terrorism.” The list was not supposed to cover what could be considered “state terrorism,” which was then a common charge leveled against countries like the United States, Israel, and South Africa at the time. Rather, it was to prevent the sale of weapons to those governments that—over a sustained period of time—had sponsored international terrorism committed by non-nationals. If Menendez believes North Korea belongs on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, then the original legislation should be re-written to cover all acts of international terrorism conducted by state agents. Or, there should be two lists: one for state sponsors of terrorism, and one for state terrorism.

Second, the Sony hack does not meet the Code of Federal Regulations definition of “terrorism:”

“Terrorism includes the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

If cyberattacks—whether designed to steal, corrupt, disrupt, degrade, or destroy—are considered the equivalent of a “use of force” or “violence” as the definition of terrorism suggests, then there any number of countries that and individuals who should be labeled as terrorists.

In fact, North Korea is not a leading source of malicious cyber activity—the United States is consistently ranked first, and other top sources remain debated. Symantec reported that the top three country sources of malware in 2013 were the United States (17 percent), China (9 percent) and India (5 percent). Alternatively, though Kapersky also estimates that the United States is the leading source of malicious activity (25 percent), it ranks Russia second (19 percent), followed by the Netherlands (12 percent).

Rather than misapplying the existing policy tools or diminishing the physical harm and psychological toll of terrorism, Congress should reexamine what new legislation is required to prevent or counter significant costly or damaging cyberattacks. If malicious cyberattacks are considered terrorism, this will result in a default categorization of the United States and many of its allies as sponsors of terrorism. Obviously, it’s highly unlikely that the Secretary of State would designate the United States or its allies as such.

This piece appears courtesy of CFR’s blog Politics, Power, and  Preventative Action.

Image: U.S. Navy Flickr. 

TopicsSecurity RegionsUnited States

Make No Mistake: Iran is a Threat

The Buzz

History is replete with strategic incidents that were unforeseen but set in motion events that shaped the strategic landscape for decades. The collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was one such event, which foreshadowed the end of the Cold War and resulted in an easing of transatlantic tensions. The world hasn’t been the same since.

Fast forward to 2014 and the world’s witnessing another intriguing, strategic transaction being played out: the US and Iran are collectively seeking to degrade Islamic State extremists—or daeshas they are pejoratively referred to. Some see it as an odd alignment of diametrically-opposed ideologies; others as a pragmatic convergence of strategic self-interest.

Still, logic would suggest that using Iranian military force against daesh in Iraqi Sunni territory probably doesn’t help Sunnis think that Baghdad is interested in governing Iraq as a unitary state. Iran is, at best, a fair-weather friend of the US and the international forces confronting daesh. But it has a different strategic agenda at play in relation to its influence in Iraq, which doesn’t help Iraq stay united.

(Recommended: 5 Iranian Weapons of War Israel Should Fear

The issues that arise from this interaction are maddeningly complex. Where will it end, and what if anything can be done about the residual ‘elephant in the room’: Iran’s emerging, or, by now, nascent nuclear capability?

Three issues stand out above the ruck of diverse complexities.

The first is the question of whether the ‘Iranian leopard can change its spots’. Iran has played—and continues to play—a resolute and determined long game. For more than a decade it has been steadfastly unwilling to compromise or cooperate with the international community. Why would it? It hates the liberal and free West, and consciously eschews more than essential minimal interaction with it.

(Recommended: 5 Israeli Weapons of War Iran Should Fear

Notwithstanding Iran’s confrontation of daesh, nothing has emerged in recent times to suggest any prospect of the leopard changing. Make no mistake, Iran has a deep investment in its nuclear program and a determination to leverage the anticipated benefits of that investment. To think otherwise is for the West to bury its head in the sand—to the further advantage of an established Islamic State, and one which is potentially far more dangerous than its much-publicised namesake.

The second issue is that of an ‘opportune smokescreen’, behind which Iran has advanced its nuclear ambitions. This is due to the competing regional strategic distractions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and now, daesh. Each has—and continues—to soak up Western blood, treasure and resolve, now closer to evaporation than at any other time since September 11.

(Recommended: Russian Nuclear Weapons 101

Meanwhile, Iran’s leadership has pursued its nuclear ambitions, unfettered by the West’s democratic challenges of factional division and dissenting public opinion. That situation is now further exacerbated by an increasingly constrained US President, with less than 700 days left in office, a frustrated domestic and international agenda, and diminishing executive authority, both symbolically and practically.

It’s been a good time for Iran to fly under the international radar of scrutiny, at a time when there should have been increased, not diminished, transparency and accountability. Near-term strategic priorities have crowded out a supremely-important dilemma.

(Recommended: Iran Will Remain a Nuclear Threshold State)

Lastly, to the matter of the scale and dimension of the looming threat.

The threat posed by daesh is grim but at its ‘high-water mark,’ their barbarity and mayhem is counted in thousands. However, the threat now posed by a nuclear malevolent Iran is emphatically much worse, with the resulting chaos almost unimaginable in its wake, turbulence and duration.

As the crow—or more aptly, the missile—flies, the distance between Tehran and Tel Aviv is just under 1600 kilometres (approximately 1000 miles). Hence, the time from launch to impact is brief; potentially mere minutes to Armageddon and the worst crisis the world has seen since 1945. The ripples and ramifications of such an event would extend to the end of the 21st century.

No, Iran hasn’t gone away; nor will its strategic aspirations be dissipated by a near-term and welcome outbreak of common sense. To date, containment hasn’t worked. Nor have the much-anticipated and variously described—‘useful/helpful/intense/continuing’—negotiations in Geneva, designed to break the impasse of 12 years of Iranian delay and obfuscation.

The self-imposed deadline of  November 24, 2014 to resolve the standoff has passed. An unnamed member of Tehran’s delegation was quoted in recent days as saying that uranium enrichment and how to remove sanctions remain as sticking points. Another seven months of talks to follow. More delay and obfuscation as Iran’s nuclear program develops into an even more serious threat to regional and international security

In the end, Iran is neither just a Middle East nor a US problem. Rather, it’s a pressing global concern, to which a global collective solution must be found.

Andrew Nikolic (Australia) is the federal member for Bass and a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, and the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. This piece first appeared in ASPI’s The Strategist here.

Image: Wikicommons. 

TopicsSecurity RegionsIran

Indonesia: One of the Least Safe Air Markets in the World

The Buzz

The crash of AirAsia Flight 8501, though tragic, was not an enormous surprise to anyone who follows aviation in Indonesia, or who has flown repeatedly in Indonesia. This is not to say that AirAsia has a poor safety record; the airline had never had a fatal accident prior to this one, and AirAsia management has responded admirably to the crash. Senior management, including AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes, have reached out to families of the survivors, trying to keep them updated about information on the search and rescue operations and personally consoling relatives of people who were on Flight 8501.

But anyone who knows aviation in Indonesia knows that the country has a horrific record for airplane accidents and that Indonesia has weaker safety protocols regarding aviation than other middle-income countries. Indonesia’s air safety record is more analogous to that of desperately poor and war-torn countries like Yemen, Somalia, or Afghanistan than to air safety in neighboring nations like Thailand, Singapore, or the Philippines. Multiple Indonesian airlines, like the terrible Adam Air, have closed their doors in recent years after suffering numerous accidents. The European Union and the United States have banned many Indonesian airlines from flying into their home markets, while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has refused to allow Lion Air, Indonesia’s fastest-growing low-cost carrier, to join, because of Lion Air safety record. The International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency, ranks Indonesia as one of the least safe air markets in the world.

Indonesia is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in Asia, due to its expanding middle class, the result of more than a decade of solid growth, and its vast territory. Flying in Indonesia, though not safe enough, is still safer than taking one of the rickety inter-island ferries, which have some of the worst marine safety records in the world.

Still, just being safer than Indonesia’s horrendous ferries is not a high bar. The Indonesian government needs to take concrete steps to improve aviation safety if it hopes to reassure Indonesians to continue flying within the country, to boost tourism arrivals, and to attract a significant increase in foreign investment. (After all, foreign investors need to travel around the country, and they aren’t going to be taking ferries.) For one, Jakarta needs to implement legislation that will help boost pay for airport managers, air traffic controllers, and aircraft safety inspectors. Low pay attracts mediocre talent, and increases the possibility that airlines could bribe managers, controllers, and inspectors. Recent reports on CNN suggest that AirAsia did not have a license to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on Sunday, the day of the week that Flight 8501 crashed. According to CNN, “[Indonesian] Transport Minister Ignatious Jonan described the airline’s breach [flying on Sunday] as a ‘serious violation.’ ‘How could they fly? Who would they have to approach to be able to make that flight. It would have to be the airport management or lobby air traffic control,’” CNN reported the transport minister as saying.

In addition, Jakarta should take steps to ensure that pilots operating in Indonesia are better-informed, better-trained, and working on adequate rest. Indonesia this week already took a positive first step by mandating that all pilots attend briefings before takeoff with flight operating officers – the briefings will discuss the weather, the route, and other issues.

But the government can take many other steps to improve the quality of pilots operating in Indonesia. Low-cost carriers in Indonesia have become notorious for overworking their pilots, which may be one reason why several of Lion Air’s pilots have been caught with methamphetamines the past three years. (Methamphetamines help you stay awake.) Jakarta needs to implement and enforce stricter regulations on the amount of hours pilots can work per week, and to increase enforcement of random drug and alcohol testing for pilots. In addition, Jakarta needs to make pilot licensing more rigorous and more standardized.

According to numerous estimates, within two decades Indonesia will be one of the ten largest aviation markets in the world, in terms of flights flown per day. These estimates, however, assume that Indonesian aviation will be safe enough that growing numbers of travelers will feel comfortable aboard Indonesian domestic airlines. That’s hardly a given.

This piece appears courtesy of CFR’s blog Asia Unbound.

Image: Wikicommons. 

TopicsAirAsia Flight 8501 RegionsIndonesia