Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia

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Overview

The #1 New York Times bestselling author provides a shocking analysis of the crisis in Pakistan and the renewed radicalism threatening Afghanistan and the West.

Ahmed Rashid is “Pakistan’s best and bravest reporter” (Christopher Hitchens). His unique knowledge of this vast and complex region allows him a panoramic vision and nuance that no Western writer can emulate.

His book Taliban first introduced American readers to the brutal regime that ...

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Overview

The #1 New York Times bestselling author provides a shocking analysis of the crisis in Pakistan and the renewed radicalism threatening Afghanistan and the West.

Ahmed Rashid is “Pakistan’s best and bravest reporter” (Christopher Hitchens). His unique knowledge of this vast and complex region allows him a panoramic vision and nuance that no Western writer can emulate.

His book Taliban first introduced American readers to the brutal regime that hijacked Afghanistan and harbored the terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Now, Rashid examines the region and the corridors of power in Washington and Europe to see how the promised nation building in these countries has pro-gressed. His conclusions are devastating: An unstable and nuclear-armed Pakistan, a renewed al’ Qaeda profiting from a booming opium trade, and a Taliban resurgence and reconquest. While Iraq continues to attract most of American media and military might, Rashid argues that Pakistan and Afghanistan are where the conflict will finally be played out and that these failing states pose a graver threat to global security than the Middle East.

Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and the crisis in Pakistan are only the beginning. Rashid assesses what her death means for the region and the future. Rashid has unparalleled access to the figures in this global drama, and provides up-to-the-minute analysis better than anyone else. Descent Into Chaos will do for Central Asia what Thomas Rick’s Fiasco did for Iraq — offer a blistering critique of the Bush administration and an impassioned call to correct our failed strategy in the region.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

"Iraq may turn out to be a mere side show compared with what is at stake with Pakistan and Afghanistan," says Rashid in his critical, timely and expansive book (the introduction alone takes up almost an entire disc). Arthur Morey walks a thin line: his overall success conveying the information in this weighty tome without sounding like a monotone college professor is a credit to his talent. Morey's voice is calm, authoritative and confident. His diction is perfect and his mannered delivery never loses steam. Nevertheless, even with an important book such as this, it is difficult to convey this quantity of factual information in a way that doesn't eventually begin to drone on. Morey fights the good fight and comes out ahead, barely. A Viking hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 14). (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670019700
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/3/2008
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Ahmed Rashid is a journalist who has been covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia for more than twenty years. He is a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, Daily Telegraph, and The Nation, a leading newspaper in Pakistan. His #1 New York Times bestseller Taliban has been translated into more than twenty languages.

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Table of Contents


Descent Into Chaos Maps
Countries and Cities of Central Asia
Ethnic Distribution Within Pakistan and Afghanistan
Afghan Provinces and Federally Administered Tribal Areas
NATO Deployment and Provincial Reconstruction Team Locations in Afghanistan, 2007
Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan, 2007
Military Offensives Launched by the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, 2007-2008
Glossary
Acronyms

Introduction
Imperial Overreach and Nation Building

Part One. 9/11 And War

1. A Man With a Mission
The Unending Conflict in Afghanistan

2. "The U.S. Will Act Like a Wounded Bear"
Pakistan's Long Search for Its Soul

3. The Chief Executive's Schizophrenia
Pakistan, the United Nations, and the United States Before 9/11

4. Attack!
Retaliation and Invasion

5. The Search For a Settlement
Afghanistan and Pakistan at Odds

Part Two. The Politics Of The Post-9/11 World

6. A Nuclear State of Mind
India, Pakistan, and the War of Permanent Instability

7. The One-Billion Dollar Warlords
The War Within Afghanistan

8. Musharraf's Lost Moment
Political Expediency and Authoritarian Rule

Part Three. The Failure Of Nation Building

9. Afghanistan I
Economic Reconstruction

10. Afghanistan II
Rebuilding Security

11. Double-Dealing With Islamic Extremism
Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan

12. Taliban Resurgent
The Taliban Return Home

Part Four. Descent Into Chaos

13. Al Qaeda's Bolt-Hole
Pakistan's Tribal Areas

14. America Shows The Way
The Disappeared and the Rendered

15. Drugs And Thugs
Opium Fuels the Insurgency

16. Who Lost Uzbekistan?
Tyranny in Central Asia

17. The Taliban Offensive
Battling for Control of Afghanistan, 2006-2007

18. Conclusion
The Death of an Icon and a Fragile Future

Acknowledgments
Notes
Suggested Reading
Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2008

    Insane warmongering

    Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid is a friend and supporter of Afghanistan¿s president Hamid Karzai. Rashid warns that Afghanistan is facing state collapse, Pakistan is in meltdown, and the five Central Asian states are dictatorships. He claims that the most important thing in the world is to rebuild these nations. He shows that President Karzai¿s regime depends on warlords and drug barons, who are backed by the CIA. Britain¿s forces there are supposed to be helping to cut opium production, but their policy of paying farmers to destroy their opium crops has been `disastrous¿. Opium production soared from 4,000 tons in 2005 to 8,200 in 2007. Half of this was grown in British-occupied Helmand, where the rest of Afghanistan¿s opium was sold. The USA is allied to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which are al-Qaeda¿s main sponsors. The USA has given more than $10 billion to Pakistan¿s President Musharraf. Bush backed him even after he tore up the constitution, sacked the judges, imprisoned more than 12,000 people and muzzled the media. This `created immense hatred for the U.S. Army and America¿. The USA¿s torture of POWs has further increased this hatred. As Rashid writes, ¿By following America¿s lead in promoting or condoning disappearances, torture, and secret jails, these countries found their path to democracy and their struggle against Islamic extremism set back by decades. Western-led nation building had little credibility if it denied justice to the very people it was supposed to help. It could well be argued that over time Islamic extremists were emboldened rather than subdued by the travesty of justice the United States perpetrated. The people learned to hate America. ¿ The deterioration of human rights in each country became linked to that government¿s proximity to the CIA.¿ So the USA¿s wars have increased the al-Qaeda threat, particularly in Pakistan. Rashid also notes that US interventions have failed in Yugoslavia and East Timor and made a hell-hole of Iraq. And then - after all this - Rashid calls on the USA, not to get out of the region, but to get deeper in. More sanely, he also calls on the peoples of the region to take responsibility for moving their nations towards democracy.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2009

    Fantastic Overview of Af-Pak Conflict

    Most thorough overview of the events leading up to the Af-Pak crises we are facing today. A must read for anyone interested in the region. Provides a rare perspective on the events in the region.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Descent into Chaos , Ahmed Rashid, Allen Lane,2008.ISBN No .978-1-846-14175-1

    Descent into Chaos , Ahmed Rashid, Allen Lane,2008.ISBN No .978-1-846-14175-1 Ahmed Rashid acquired fame and became darling of the west when his book on Taliban was published in 2000 or so.Descent into Chaos is another bestseller as far as publishing statistics is concerned.It is a tragedy that the West,guardian of the present worlds intellectual property projects what suits its political and social interests and stifles what it finds ¿ politically unacceptable¿.Seen in this background what Ahmed Rashid writes is acceptable to the west.Possibly because what he says fits hand in glove with western perceptions about how to shape the future. As normal the book has some factual errors.Some insignificant some not so insignificant and some which not have escaped the sagacity of a known Afghanistan hand like Ahmed Rashid. The Ghilzai revolt started not in 1701 as stated on page.7 but in 1709.The Durranis did not move the capital to Kabul in 1772 as stated on page.7 but in 1774 if we agree with Sayed Qasem Reshtia a great Afghan historian or 1775 if we believe Louis Dupree who is concerned the most reliable western historian.On page.8 Ahmed Rashid states that the British tried to conquer Afghanistan three times.This is not correct.It happened twice if we include the English East India Company and once if we include the Second Afghan War of 1878-80.In the Third Afghan War it were the Afghans who tried to attack India and miserably failed and the British launched some very local offensive actions at Spin Boldak and Khyber Agency to push back the Afghans.On page.9 Rashid promotes Major General Naseerullah Babar to lieutenant general rank.On page.11 he states that for first time in 300 years the Afghan capital Kabul fell in non Pashtun hands once Ahmad Shah Masud captured it.This is quite incorrect.The first time Afghanistan¿s capital fell in Non Pashtun hands was once the Persian Qazalbash Nadir Shah captured Kandahar the then capital of Ghiljai Pashtuns on 24 March 1738 some 224 years before 1992 and Kabul on 29 June 1738 again some 223 years and some 10 months before April 1992.In any case we must remember that Kabul was a Hindu province for a long time in twelfth century and a Mughal Indian province for some 200 plus years long before 1992.On page 17 Rashid states that the Pakistani FC managed Pakistani artillery and communications.This is factually incorrect.The FC hardly has any artillery and the Afghans did not require any training in communications.In any case the Afghans had a much larger number of ex Afghan Army gunners with Mujahideen quite capable of handling all types of artillery guns of Soviet vintage available in Afghanistan.Rashid seems to be very friendly with US officials who throughout his narrative keep on telling him so many things,like on page.18 US officials tell him that Al Qaeda was responsible for USS Cole.On page.34 Rashid states that ¿ the British conquest of Northwest India was aimed solely at providing security from marauding Afghan Baloch and Pashtun tribes¿ .This assertion is factually incorrect.The British company English East India Company¿s conquest of North West India comprising modern Pakistan was done in response to invasion of Sikhs of British territory in 1845.At that time the Sikhs were controlling all major Pashtun cities like Peshawar,Bannu ,Kohat,D.I Khan etc so the question of the Pashtun, Afghan or Baloch simply does not arise.Musharraf was not commissioned in the field artillery as stated on page.45 but in the ¿ Self Propelled Artillery¿.On page.45 Rashid states that in 1971 Musharraf commanded an SSG Commando unit which went behind the enemy lines.In 2002 I interviewed Musharrafs Commanding Officer in 1971 Brigadier Iqbal Nazir Warraich who confirmed that Musharraf was a sub unit commander under him and Musharraf¿s sub unit was not used behind enemy lines.On page.52 Rashid states that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was the ISI¿s investigative arm.This is also factually i

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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