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The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the…

af Peter Tomsen

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963222,084 (4.21)1
An insider's account of Afghanistan's history since the 1970s and how the CIA's covert operations and the Pentagon's military strategy have strengthened extremism in the country.

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This is a MUST read book by a former US government official that had dealings with and in Afghanistan from the time of the Soviet occupation. It is very well documented and presents a view of why Afghanistan has failed to coalesce as a modern nation state and why America is failing at nation-building. After reading this, I can't imagine how our government policy can possibly be so flawed. I would say policy makers in Washington need to read this book, but Tomsen sent memos to the concerned parties with the same information and nothing has changed. Afghanistan is a war that can't be won, because we're fighting it the wrong way. ( )
  SGTCat | Feb 25, 2021 |
A major tome; comprehensive. Great for a scholar. Too much detail for a lay person. A must read for those who are in decision making positions and inclined to forgetting history.
  DrRex | Mar 19, 2014 |
Too many words, Your Excellency, too many words. If somebody had checked the author's vanity, this could have been an excellent book. When it finally hits its stride in the account of Bush's war it is concise and hard-hitting. To arrive to this point, the reader has to wade through two morasses. First, an excellent but too detailed political history of the build-up and intervention of the Soviets in Afghanistan that shows how the Soviets were much more adept to outmaneuver the different local factions than the bumbling Americans. Then a recap of the US and Saudi assistance to the Mudjahedin. While Saudi Arabia infected Afghanistan with its fatal ideology, US influence was capped by Pakistan. For a few photo op's, the US financed the Pakistani build-up of its guerrilla army and client state. The CIA, as usual, showed itself pig-ignorant and incompetent, enjoying its offices in Pakistan. When the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan, the US should have reassessed its policy towards both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Instead, it neglected the topic.

That is the time the author appears on scene. As George H. Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan, he is tasked with an impossible mission. Special envoys are the diplomatic equivalent of the Paralympics - A for effort, but nobody expects real world results. The author is in no way prepared for his job. He had been active only in the Burmese-Chinese influenced parts of Asia and he doesn't speak any of the relevant languages. Furthermore, he has little to no support in Washington, DC, or Langley. His Afghan partners are quick to realize that he will pay for a meal but otherwise is but a merchant in empty promises (a frustrating role indeed). Pakistan and the CIA undercut what little progress he manages to achieve. The Taliban takeover demolishes his hope of becoming US ambassador to Afghanistan, being given the consolation prize of the Armenian ambassadorship to sweeten the final days of his career.

The final part of the book "America and Afghanistan" is a damning and tragic account of the US incompetence in dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Time and again, the Pakistanis fool the Americans. Under the nose of the American military, for instance, the Pakistanis evacuate the senior Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders by multiple plane loads at Tora Bora. The CIA seems to have been enthralled by the Pakistanis and mostly working against US interests. The Americans, for most of the time, financed their enemies themselves (minus the parts embezzled jointly by US contractors and Pakistani officials). A truly sad story in which the culprits had never had to account for their misdeeds. As the Americans are still in Afghanistan, the book ends before the wars in Afghanistan do. Perhaps someone can edit the text to a manageable length and add the conclusion in a future edition. ( )
  jcbrunner | Aug 31, 2012 |
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An insider's account of Afghanistan's history since the 1970s and how the CIA's covert operations and the Pentagon's military strategy have strengthened extremism in the country.

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