Top positive review
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Insightful, penetrating analysis of Afghanistan and its wars
on February 10, 2011
I've been to Afghanistan. I have seen Afghan women cry as their babies died of tragically easily preventable sickness. I have seen Afghanistan's wars and what it has done to the Afghans. I have even met the author of this book, who has also spent a lot of time in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the years.
I have seen what is at stake in Afghanistan. I know the lives of Afghan people who deserve better are being shaped by decisions made, not by themselves or their kin, but by men behind desks in Washington, Tampa, Rawalpindi Cantonment and other far and distant places. One of the things that continues to blight the lives on the Afghan people is that neither these men nor those that implement their policies understand Afghanistan. That applies to good guys as well as bad guys. I have seen well-intentioned aid workers make ill-informed decisions that led to more deaths than any trigger-happy soldier could inflict.
If you want an idea of both WHAT is happening in Afghanistan and WHY, I recommend AFGHANISTAN, GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES. For a sense of what is at stake in Afghanistan, it pulls together the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The author is an experienced military analyst, but this book is not about battalions and operations. Rather, it aims to put the wars in an Afghan (not US) political and cultural context, which is what the men behind desks, men trying to do good works or men leading troops in Afghanistan never seem to understand, to the Afghans' great sorrow and cost.
I have seen the result of many of the policy, military and aid failures that this book describes. By no means all of them are the result of outsides. The author knows enough to realize that Afghans are not just victims, but have been part of the reason why the conflicts in their remote conflict now touch lives throughout the world. If you need to understand Afghanistan, this book can make you better informed, even if it cannot provide the needed answers to Afghanistan's conflicts.