- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (April 8, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0544046692
- ISBN-13: 978-0544046696
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 173 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 1st Edition
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"A valuable contribution to a hefty body of work on the American war in Afghanistan that has become stale and somewhat hackneyed. It provides a raw, unvarnished and important look at one of the darkest and least understood parts of the Afghan war….Ms. Gall, a reporter for The New York Times in Afghanistan and Pakistan for more than a decade, beginning shortly after Sept. 11, is in an extraordinary position to write this important and long overdue book." --The New York Times"The Wrong Enemy is a timely survey of a military and diplomatic undertaking that has exacted a stiff tribute from Afghans and NATO forces in lives, treasure, and national prestige. Gall is right to confront the uneasy truths involving Pakistan’s double-dealing while also identifying coalition shortfalls...When it comes to informative, credible reporting from Central Asia over the past decade, Gall ranks with journalists like Dexter Filkins and David Rohde who have written about Afghanistan with authority and context. But Gall is perhaps uniquely positioned to tackle the troubling questions she raises about Pakistan's alleged support of terrorism...As the US and NATO prepare to possibly withdraw all forces from Afghanistan at the close of this year, Gall’s book qualifies as a must-read." --The Christian Science Monitor"Gall's long years of reporting for the New York Times from the front lines of the war are clear in this book, particularly in her vivid reconstruction of how things went rapidly downhill after the easy U.S.-led victories over the Taliban at the end of 2001...To her credit, Ms. Gall gets the most important thing right. She underscores the danger of the U.S. turning its back on Afghanistan, which, while still fragile, shows more signs of modernity than ever before. The repercussions of the U.S. drawdown 'are already inspiring Islamists, who are comparing it to the withdrawal of the Soviet Union' after its defeat at the hands of the mujahedeen. Unlike the Obama administration, Ms. Gall recognizes that radical Islam can't be ignored or wished away." -- The Wall Street Journal"A strong, well-crafted account by an informed observer." --The Economist"The author offers a compelling account of the attack on bin Laden's compound, the repercussions of which are still being felt. Gall admirably never loses sight of the human element in this tragedy." --Kirkus
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The US government has had a fraught relationship with Pakistan for decades. After Partition, an event that cost many thousands of lives and a harbinger of things to come, the US was more-or-less sympathetic to the new Muslim nation. Why? Because India wasn't especially cloaked in fealty to the West, choosing instead to assume the mantle of the then-fashionable, "third way"; the Non-Aligned Movement. Indifference to Pakistan later became distinctly chilly, when Pakistan detonated it's first atomic weapon. Sanctions were imposed and distance grew. However, as India became more capitalistic and Pakistan more overtly militaristic and Islamist, sentiments and policy shifted. Following the September 11 events, the War on Terror began and Pakistan became a close chum of the USA.
Despite the new cozy relationship, the Pakistani military and the legendary Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency never ceased to support a stunning array of terrorist organizations: Kashmiri-Islamist militants, anti-India terrorists and, of course, the Taliban with it's "affiliates". Did the US know this? Of course. It's been assiduously documented by a panoply of journalists (Wright, Lieven, Packer, Rashid, Coll and many others); it's public knowledge. Did the US do anything about it? According to Gall and all available evidence: no.
Thus, as Gall points out, the US and its NATO allies are simultaneously supporting the logistical/operational/financial/ideological base for terrorism in Afghanistan (i.e., Pakistan) whist fighting the symptom, to wit, the Taliban. Bizarre? Yes. Clearly documented by Gall? Yes. Realpolitik? Maybe. Myopic? Definitely.
Worse, following what Gall (optimistically) characterizes as a successful counterinsurgency campaign and a belated troop surge, culminating in a sort of Iraq-like wave of anti-Taliban sentiment by some tribes, the US adroitly decides to pull out of the country, leaving the corrupt, ineffectual and angry Karzai regime in tatters while elections are pending. Shades of Vietnam? Maybe.
So, how does it end? Gall isn't much prone to idle speculation, but she seemingly concludes that the "long war" is about to end as a debacle, this due to political expediency by the Obama administration and war fatigue at home and amongst the NATO allies. Who wins? Looks like Pakistan 1: USA 0 on this one.
(Update: Extensive commentary on Gall's book by Ahmed Rashid appears in the current issue of The New York Review of Books. He takes issue with several of her claims, especially regarding a "Bin Laden desk" at ISI and her perceived failure to recognize "evolution" of Pakistan's attitudes toward the Taliban and other Islamist extremist groups).