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Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground
     

Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground

by Jonathan Steele
 

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Ghosts of Afghanistan is the first account of Afghanistan’s turbulent recent history by an independent eyewitness. Jonathan Steele, an award-winning writer and commentator, has covered the country since his first visit there as a reporter in 1981.

He tracked the Soviet occupation and the communist regime of Najibullah, which held the Western-backed

Overview

Ghosts of Afghanistan is the first account of Afghanistan’s turbulent recent history by an independent eyewitness. Jonathan Steele, an award-winning writer and commentator, has covered the country since his first visit there as a reporter in 1981.

He tracked the Soviet occupation and the communist regime of Najibullah, which held the Western-backed resistance at bay for three years after the Soviets left. He covered the arrival of the Taliban to power in Kabul in 1996, and their retreat from Kandahar under the weight of U.S. bombing in 2001. Most recently he has reported from the epicenter of the Taliban resurgence in Helmand.

Steele’s book is a masterful blend of graphic reporting, illuminating interviews, and insightful analysis. He has conducted numerous interviews with ordinary Afghans, two of the country’s Communist presidents, senior Soviet occupation officials, Taliban leaders, Western diplomats, NATO advisers, and United Nations negotiators.

Ghosts of Afghanistan turns a spotlight on the numerous myths about Afghanistan that have bedeviled foreign policy-makers and driven them to repeat earlier mistakes. Steele compares the challenges facing the Obama Administration as it seeks to find an exit strategy with those the Kremlin faced in the 1980s and cautions that military victory will elude the West just as it eluded the Kremlin.

Showing how and why Soviet efforts to negotiate an end to the war came to nothing, Steele explains how negotiations today could put a stop to the tragedies of civil war and foreign intervention that have afflicted Afghanistan for three decades.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Steele (Defeat), former chief foreign correspondent for the Guardian, surveys 30 years of war in Afghanistan in this impressionistic history. Drawing upon 14 trips to the country over the past 30 years, dozens of interviews with Afghans, and revelations from the trove of official U.S. diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks, the author claims that the ghosts of Afghan wars past—i.e., the “catastrophic mistakes made by earlier invaders”—haunts Obama’s war today. Not only has the U.S. refused to acknowledge those earlier mistakes but it also has erected a litany of myths to support its “doomed strategy” of armed intervention and occupation. Among the myths that the author proposes and methodically, if often disingenuously, debunks is the notion that the “Soviet Union suffered military defeat” in Afghanistan and that the Taliban are unpopular and uniquely evil. Ultimately, Steele concludes, the U.S. must acknowledge the “folly” of its intervention and seek a negotiated settlement that will establish a sovereign but neutral Afghanistan. Even he, however, admits that after 30 years of armed intervention and civil war such a grand bargain “will not be easy,” and he neglects to offer any concrete steps to get there. (Nov.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582437873
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
10/04/2011
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.38(d)

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