This is an excellent book written incisively about the largely American efforts to rebuild and stabilise Afghanistan post Taliban rule. If like me you thought you had some ideas as to what was happening politically in this region then I strongly suggest you read this book. It offers analysis and insight from key personnel alongside the authors viewpoints. I would reccomend five stars but was a little frustrated from the small and tantalising British / American relationship and it's alluded conflicts - I would have liked the author to have sought out and expressed the obviously different approaches carried out by Americas principle ally - I felt he did a "saving private Ryan " perspective, fascinating but somewhat biased.
This was a really interesting book about recent events in Afghanistan - very readable (not at all dry, as some of the books on this topic can be) but also rather sad - do we not learn anything from history? I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in the region, and the West's military intervention.
This is a sound book but it needs to be read in conjunction with a detailed study of US politics since 1945. Also the reader needs to have a good working knowledge of US and UK counter-insurgency doctrine, particularly how it has had to be learned by senior officers who were raised and trained in a time of Cold War. Furthermore, one cannot begin to appreciate the varied political and military policies implemented in Afghanistan since 2001 unless one is familiar with the trauma suffered by America as a result of the Vietnam war experience.
That said,the book confirms everything we know about the arguments, conflicts and errors that have pervaded the Afghanistan venture at every level. The conflict between US and UK military is certainly not exaggerated. One of the main reasons for this is the American poor opinion of the performance of UK soldiers in Iraq in the post-war period, some of which is completely justified.
The book amply confirms that the US and its NATO allies are losing and will lose this war-not that the word 'win' has any real meaning in irregular warfare.
I would have liked much more focus on Pakistan for it is that 'failed' state that holds the key to attaining any kind of stability in the region. A very worrying feature of Pakistan's many problems is whether she can be trusted to guard and secure her growing nuclear arsenal from those elements who wish to obtain access to them.
This book is a welcome addition to the growing number of excellent books and articles by academics, diplomats and journalists on the war in Afghanistan.
This is a must read book for anyone who wants to understand the war in Afghanistan and why the surge will only have short term effects. Written with incredible access to key decision makers, and with front line exposure, this book more than any other goes to the heart of the matter.
Reading this book while engaged in stability operations in Helmand was surreal and provided me with greater clarity of thought in why and what we are here to accomplish. I emailed Wes Harris when I read about his dealings with USAID to let him know that I now feel his pain. CM
This book gives the reader an amazingly detailed insight into the conflicting interests of all the protagonists in the Afghanistan War. Not only that but also for me at least, an enlightening view of the long history of American involvement there. It definitely gives you a new perspective on both past and current news reports. A good 'page turning' read.