Return to Vanda Felbab-Brown

Portrait: Vanda Felbab-Brown

Full Biography

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, Burma, Indonesia, the Andean region, Mexico, Morocco, Somalia and eastern Africa.

Felbab-Brown is the author of Aspiration and Ambivalence: Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan (Brookings Institution Press, 2012) and Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs (Brookings Institution Press, 2009) which examines military conflict and illegal economies in Colombia, Peru, Afghanistan, Burma, Northern Ireland, India and Turkey. She is also the author of numerous policy reports, academic articles, and opinion pieces. A frequent commentator in U.S. and international media, Felbab-Brown regularly provides congressional testimony on these issues. She received her Ph.D. in political science from MIT and her B.A. from Harvard University.

Among her recent publications are: Nuclear and Radiological Attacks by Terrorist Groups (Brookings, forthcoming); Crime-War Battlefields (Survival, May 2013); Focused Deterrence, Selective Targeting, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime (IDPC, February 2013); The Orangutan’s Road: Illegal Logging and Mining in Indonesia (Brookings, February 2013); Crime as Mirror of Politics: Urban Gangs in Indonesia (Brookings, February 2013); Pena Nieto’s Pinata: The Promise and Pitfalls of Mexico’s New Security Policy against Organized Crime (Brookings, 2013); Chaos in Kabul (Brookings, January 2013); Political Violence and the Illicit Economies of West Africa” (Terrorism and Political Violence, 2012); Fighting the Nexus of Organized Crime and Violent Conflict while Enhancing Human Security (US Army War College, 2012); Bringing the State to the Slum: Confronting Organized Crime and Urban Violence in Latin America (Brookings 2011); Calderón’s Caldron: Lessons from Mexico’s Battle Against Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking in Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and Michoacán (Brookings, 2011); Not as Easy as Falling off a Log: The Illegal Timber Trade in the Asia-Pacific Region and Possible Mitigation Strategies (Brookings, 2011); The Disappearing Act: The Illicit Trade in Wildlife in Asia (Brookings, 2011); Deterring Non-state Actors in U.S. Nuclear and Extended Deterrence: Consideration and Challenges (Brookings, 2010); Why Legalization in Mexico is not a Panacea for Reducing Violence and Suppressing Organized Crime (Brookings, 2010); Negotiations and Reconciliation with the Taliban: Key Policy Issues and Dilemmas (Brookings, 2010); The Political Economy of Illegal Domains in India and China (International Lawyer, Winter 2009); The Drug Economy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Security in the Region (The National Bureau of Asian Research, December 2009); Narco-belligerents Across the Globe: Lessons from Colombia for Afghanistan? (Real Instituto Elcano, October 2009); The Obama Administration’s New Counternarcotics Policy in Afghanistan: Its Promises and Potential Pitfalls (Brookings, 2009); Assessment of the Implementation of the United States Government’s Support for Plan Colombia’s Illicit Crops Reduction Components (USAID, 2009) (co-authored); and The Violent Drug Market in Mexico and Lessons from Colombia (Brookings, March 2009).