Stephen Biddle really does prove the useful corrective that he has offered in commentary elsewhere: the coalition's victory over the Taliban and related forces over the winter of 2001/2 was dramatic, but relied on a convergence of rather peculiar factors, not least of which was the incapacity of a largely domestically focused Taliban and terrorist focused allies to fight against sophisticated invaders, but the western invaders did not invade in any significant capacity, they used large numbers of paid forces from the anti-Taliban coalition, which was unreliable and quickly broke down, leaving the US in particular to rely on air strikes and occasional raids by special operations forces. The result: a large and rough country that was never occupied sufficiently to impose a new order and a persistent Taliban. Despite the Bush administration's celebration of a victory, Afghanistan was never properly secured any more than Iraq was in 2003. This foundation for the subsequent attempts to build a new state in Afghanistan is usually forgotten - such an ambition was impossible when the only secure base was the capital and even that proved insecure. If only government or the news media had more analysts like Biddle and fewer Generals given facetime on CNN to tell us how difficult everything is and how brave our boys are.
Was this review helpful to you?