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The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan Hardcover – February 22, 2011
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A Conversation with Bing West, Author of The Wrong War
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. West (The Strongest Tribe), a former Marine combat veteran and assistant secretary of defense under Reagan, boldly assesses the prospects for U.S. success in Afghanistan in this provocative analysis. The author made eight trips to Afghanistan to witness the Obama administration's counterinsurgency strategy that emphasizes "winning over the population" ("Thus our military became a gigantic Peace Corps... drinking billions of cups of tea, and handing out billions of dollars"). Embedded with frontline troops in Afghanistan's most violent provinces, West eloquently captures their tireless efforts to carry out an "amorphous" mission. The lack of "understandable policy" confused the soldiers, encouraged risk avoidance among commanders, and "created a culture of entitlement" instead of cooperation among the Afghans who are content to accept aid and remain neutral as they wait to see whether the Americans or the insurgents will take ultimate control. Concluding that we can't win with this strategy but that withdrawal would be "disastrous," the author proposes that the U.S. immediately "transition to an adviser corps" whose primary task would be to continue training Afghan forces to defeat the Taliban. West's vivid reporting and incisive analysis provides a sober assessment of the present situation and prescribes a way for the Afghans to "win their own war." (Feb.)
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West has muddy boots. He lives and writes at the grunt level, faces the same discomfort and danger as our Soldiers and Marines, and interacts with the Afghan people in the villages and fields. He does not dwell in the theoretical or academic world of arcane ideas but focuses on results and how to attain them.
Perhaps most relevant for our highly politicized domestic society, West approaches the challenge of Afghanistan from a neutral perspective. He eschews cheap ideological shots and calls mistakes as he sees them regardless of party affiliations or personalities.
The Wrong War is absolutely essential reading for leadership, grunts, and citizens alike. America needs to heed West's analysis or risk abject failure. Get into this book now, you will be glad you did.