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The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 Hardcover – April 8, 2014
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Gall has used strong journalism skills to render a compelling discussion of the U.S. experience in Afghanistan since the 9/11 Jihad. The reader quickly understands that there are truths about our War in Afghanistan that we have not learned in the Mainstream Media. We all have heard countless times that our enemy is al Qaeda and its enabler, the Taliban. But what Gall teaches us is that the Taliban is not just some organic organization left over from the Soviet occupation. The Taliban owes its founding and continued existence to the Pakistan Government, more specifically the ISI (Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence).
Gall's story is mostly linear so it is easy to follow. It is replete with details of her fact finding over a dozen years in Afghanistan and Pakistan and years before in that part of the world. Gall gives eyewitness accounts of the collapse of the Taliban crushed on the ground by the Northern Alliance and the United Front and completely decimated by U.S. bombing.
Gall spends some time describing Hamid Karzai and Mullah Omar. Karzai quickly rose to the top the U.S. list of trusted Afghans and then was elected President. Omar was an Afghan and the long-time leader of the Taliban. Gall contradicts the standard wisdom that has evolved over the years about the ineptness of Karzai. She maintains that Karzai is a skilled politician and effectively bonded together the War Lords into an Afghan State and has tried to get the U.S. and the Media to understand that the real enemy lies in Pakistan. His great failing, however, is his ineptness at administration and his micromanaging.Read more ›
And that's vital to know and this book reminds a reader why the Afghanistan effort was doomed to fail in the way the US conducted it. From 2001 going forward, the US behaved like our actions were the only ones that mattered and the regional situation had no influence on the military operations in Afghanistan.
That hubris failed to take into account Pakistan's national interest in keeping the Taliban, if not in power, at least a legitimate force outside their borders. Since Pakistan is dealing with Muslim extremists in their own borders, it's in their best interest to keep Afghanistan as a way to relieve that pressure - so for Karzai to be successful, for the Taliban to be evicted, meant they would then be operating in Pakistan...which that country did not want.
So while they were an "ally" in name, Gall lays out a compelling argument that in every action they were working at cross-purposes with the US, and often in direct opposition. I can't even blame Pakistan - it's really no different than the US invasion of Iraq. Since WE considered Saddam Hussein's government a national threat, our mission to remove him was more important than what it would do to the regional situation (empowering Iran, etc). In this case, Pakistan has no advantage by helping Karzai or the US - but DOES have an advantage in helping the Taliban. Not because they "like" them, but because it serves their strategic and national interest.Read more ›
As the Taliban resurgence began soon after their 2001 defeat, even from the distance, many Americans began questioning the role of the Pakistan military in arming and directing the activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan, knowing that Mullah Omar and other key leaders had fled to and remained sheltered in Pakistan. The US government maintained that it was necessary to provide financial and military aid to Pakistan to retain them as an ally. The 2011 killing of Osama Bin Laden in close proximity to Pakistan's key military site confirmed Pakistan's duplicity to the world.
Gall's book reflects her long term relationships with Afghan, Pakistani, and US military leaders as well as networks among Afghan civilians. Her interviews reflect changing perspectives from all sides and create a balanced picture of the problem the US has failed to confront. She praises the US and NATO surge that defeated the Taliban for the second -- and far more difficult time -- but warns how difficult it will be for any Afghan central or local governments to continue to defeat the Taliban if the world does not acknowledge and deal with Pakistan's paranoia about India that causes the ISI to seek surrogate fighters to control neighboring Afghanistan.
For anyone who wants to understand what went wrong, this book is fascinating reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an outstanding account of how our intervention in Afghanistan went wrong, and from the start. Ms. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
The longest war in America's history albeit fighting the wrong enemy. This is Carlotta Gall's core premise and she makes her case eloquently. Gall knows her subject. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Glenn Heidenreich
good journalistic detail and acute observations from time to time, but somewhat short on analysis and interpretation... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Robert P. Matthews
Carlotta Gall is truly courageous in reporting the story of this horrific war in Afghanistan and its complexity. Read morePublished 3 months ago by K. MCBRIDE
A fascinating look at Afghanistan. The detail is a little mind boggling at times. Carlotta, on the whole writes well and demonstrates amazing courage.Published 4 months ago by William Weingartner
Must read to understand the treacherous behaviour of the Pakistanis towards the afghan ppl and their continued support of terrorPublished 6 months ago
I never rate a book five stars unless, in my opinion, it is a book that one must read . Whatever your opinion on foreign wars, this book has a quality and integrity about it that... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Solarian
I found Gall's reports pretty biased. I guess that happens when you almost die in Pakistan, but it is part and parcel to being a journalist in a conflict zone. Read morePublished 8 months ago by zACH ELKIN