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Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire (City Lights Open Media) Paperback – February 22, 2011


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Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire (City Lights Open Media) + Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Broadcast journalists and documentary filmmakers Fitzgerald and Gould (Invisible History) distill three decades of covering Afghanistan into a searing indictment of U.S. foreign policy in this predictable and unconvincing polemic. Dismissing the U.S. war in Afghanistan as "a thinly disguised effort to dominate South Central Asia," the authors conclude that the Durand (or Zero) line—the porous international border that separates Afghanistan and Pakistan—also marks "the vanishing point for the American empire, the point beyond which its power and influence disappears or simply ceases to exist." Pointing to the chaos in Afghanistan and an Iraq descending into violence, the authors evoke "a punch-drunk American leadership on the verge of collapse." While their contention that U.S. policy in Afghanistan is seriously, if not fatally, flawed is legitimate, it has been made less dogmatically and more convincingly by other recent critics, including war correspondent and former defense official Bing West in The Wrong War. (Apr.)
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From Library Journal

Gould and Fitzgerald have covered Afghanistan and the surrounding region for 30 years, as both documentary filmmakers (Afghanistan Between Three Worlds) and authors (Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story). This long involvement with the issues has made them sharply critical of America for its lack of understanding of the ethnic diversity and social relations of the people, its application of Cold War thinking and strategy to a new and different kind of conflict, its military’s current counterinsurgency strategy, and its failure to define Pakistan as the real challenge. The authors portray policies of previous years (e.g., U.S. support of insurgents fighting the Soviet invasion) as now coming back to hurt us, part of a repetition of errors previously made by European powers in the region over the past 400 years. They have marshaled an impressive array of sources, both journalistic and academic, to demonstrate that their ideas have long been available, if only policymakers had chosen to heed them. VERDICT Bob Woodward’s recent Obama’s War focuses on the administration’s AfPak deliberations, but this book provides a wider perspective. Readers with a serious interest in U.S. foreign policy or military strategy will find it helpful in thinking about a long-lived issue.—Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., NY
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Product Details

  • Series: City Lights Open Media
  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872865134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872865136
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,379,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Carol Liane Brouillet on May 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
Liz Gould and Paul Fitzgerald were the first American journalists to visit Afghanistan in the wake of the "Soviet Invasion." For decades they have struggled to overcome the barriers of official policies and corporate control to tell the story of Afghanistan from the point of view of the Afghan people. In the process they have looked deeply into the history of Afghanistan, as well as their own personal histories, their journey has been profound, transformative, and very challenging. Their earlier books and documentaries are well worth reading, and so is a unique white paper outlining a possible solution to the current dilemma entitled "Restoring Afghanistan's Tribal Balance - An indigenous peace process for unifying a shattered nation." Humanity has given birth to many empires, and has witnessed their deaths. Every year now, we are "discovering" new ancient remnants of a forgotten past. The pathology which governs today's failing empire threatens our entire biosphere. This drama is being played out in Afghanistan with the U.S. playing a shadowy role misunderstood and tolerated by a blinded public. Individually and collectively, at the soul level, at this unique intersection of time and space, enlightenment and transformation remain humanity's best hope. Despite the darkness, the challenges, the seeming impossibility of the situation in Afghanistan, this book lights a candle, and brings a ray of hope, of understanding, of insight to turning the tide of forces that are not only threatening the people of Afghanistan, but the hearts and souls of all of us, whose existence is irrevocably intertwined whether we are aware of of it or choose to succumb to the darkness and continue sleeping. If you have no idea of what is happening in Afghanistan, please read this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hughes on May 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
Crossing Zero is a compelling indictment of how America and Pakistan's "special relationship" has led to the destruction of Afghan society and the decimation of its secular tribal structure. The book contains an easy-to-read and fact-driven narrative that doesn't simply recount Western follies in Central Asia because, unlike most books about Afghanistan on the market, it contains creative solutions that can truly transform one's entire perspective on the root causes of the violent extremism that plagues the AfPak border region. Not to mention, the book seems eerily clairvoyant in light of the recent news that Pakistan's military and intelligence apparatus may have been hiding Osama bin Laden for years.

Gould and Fitzgerald smash conventional wisdom and highlight underreported inflection points throughout Afghan history to expose the Obama administration's sanctioning of the CIA's secret war in Pakistan. Crossing Zero clearly traces causes and conditions, illustrating how the Durand line, drawn in 1893, was a direct result of Britain's historic "divide-and-rule" stratagem, which split the Pashtun tribes in half throwing the region into a state of perpetual instability, a situation exacerbated by the Crown's artificial creation of the Pakistani state in 1947.

The authors dissect the Obama administration's AfPak strategy and show how it has fanned violent Islamic extremism and violated America's values and principles, doing so with inconvenient facts which cut deep. Gould and Fitzgerald uniquely portray how the legacy of colonialism continues to haunt the present, including British regulations imposed on Pashtun tribes and other indigenous people. The authors explain:

"The British then re-enacted a set of legal rules known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR).
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although this book has nothing good to same about our recent presidents, the book forces the reader to deal objectively with the failures of our country's leadership, esp in the state department and Army in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même choses." This book shows the incredible misconceptions that led (& continue to lead) both Republican and Democratic administrations further into the morass.
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