4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
The blind leading the blind - Britain joins America in Afghanistan, 15 Nov 2011
The Afghan Solution: The Inside Story of Abdul Haq, the CIA and How Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan shines light on people and events relating to the ongoing fiasco of Western military intervention in Afghanistan. How British and American hubris blinded intelligence officials and politicians to go for a quick fix blended military (Afghan mercenaries, CIA teams, Special Forces and B-52s) victory over the Taliban in revenge for the 9/11 attacks is of great historical interest. Western intelligence personnel appeared not to understand the internal dynamics of the Taliban alliance and opposition, probably because they were isolated in Pakistan during the anti-Soviet war and had been conditioned to the ISI world view for two decades.
The Taliban alliance was fragile and ripe for defections to Abdul Haq, a genuine indigenous leader that could have rallied a broad cross spectrum of Afghan groups to overthrow the Taliban without Western intervention. The Bush Administration ignored the opportunity for an internal Afghan solution to the Taliban problem. Edwards shows how they instead went for a quick and cheap victory over the Taliban and Al Qaeda by buying an alliance with Tajik and Uzbek war lords. The subsequent ten years of occupation by the USA and NATO tells us that it was anything but a quick and cheap victory.
Edwards points to a formative event in June 2002, when the American Ambassador Zulmay Khalilzad facilitated `war lords' such as Fahim and Dostum, considered by many Afghans to be `war criminals' for their destructive role in the post Najibullah government civil war, to the front rows of the Loyal Jirga. They symbolically were placed in front of the leaders of the people who had come to express their desire for a post-Taliban just peace.
The people didn't matter; the Americans wanted the War Lords to provide security on the cheap. They were given control of the NDS - the secret police, the Afghan Army and Police with U.S. training and assistance. It was an economy of force operation for President Bush who had already decided he would attack Iraq and needed to reposition US assets for the coming invasion.
Supporting the War Lords was considered a cheap way to rule Afghanistan. Just give them control over the security services and some money and guns. Expect them to help Special Forces hunt down Al Qaida remnants. Ignore their drug running, corruption, incompetence and abuse of the people.
The failure to work with Abdul Haq, a man who could have rallied the Pashtuns and other ethnic groups, left the Anglo-American effort with very little indigenous support in the southern and eastern sections of Afghanistan. The CIA had to buy friends, such as President Karzai's infamous power broker brother in Kandahar who not only was their asset, but a major drug lord, security services contractor for ISAF and head of the Provincial Advisory Council.
Many of us, who have worked in Afghanistan, are frustrated with the collective failure of our governments to understand the critical need for Afghan tribal leaders and people to decide their own future. Anglo-American efforts in Afghanistan never had a serious chance to support justice, good governance, and security sector reform because of the early decisions to forcefully intervene instead of relying on Afghan solutions to Afghan problems.
Edwards illuminates a dark and sad period in Anglo-American cooperation. Politicians, diplomats, national security policy people, academics, students, soldiers and spooks all need to read the book for insights on how to allow the Afghans to resolve their own problems and never again make similar ignorant mistakes.