In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan

In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan

3.6 21
by Seth G. Jones
     
 

ISBN-10: 0393338517

ISBN-13: 9780393338515

Pub. Date: 04/12/2010

Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.

A definitive account of the American experience in Afghanistan from the rise of the Taliban to the depths of the insurgency.
After the swift defeat of the Taliban in 2001, American optimism has steadily evaporated in the face of mounting violence; a new “war of a thousand cuts” has now brought the country to its knees. In the Graveyard of Empires is

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Overview

A definitive account of the American experience in Afghanistan from the rise of the Taliban to the depths of the insurgency.
After the swift defeat of the Taliban in 2001, American optimism has steadily evaporated in the face of mounting violence; a new “war of a thousand cuts” has now brought the country to its knees. In the Graveyard of Empires is a political history of Afghanistan in the “Age of Terror” from 2001 to 2009, exploring the fundamental tragedy of America’s longest war since Vietnam.
After a brief survey of the great empires in Afghanistan—the campaigns of Alexander the Great, the British in the era of Kipling, and the late Soviet Union—Seth G. Jones examines the central question of our own war: how did an insurgency develop? Following the September 11 attacks, the United States successfully overthrew the Taliban regime. It established security throughout the country—killing, capturing, or scattering most of al Qa’ida’s senior operatives—and Afghanistan finally began to emerge from more than two decades of struggle and conflict. But Jones argues that as early as 2001 planning for the Iraq War siphoned off resources and talented personnel, undermining the gains that had been made. After eight years, he says, the United States has managed to push al Qa’ida’s headquarters about one hundred miles across the border into Pakistan, the distance from New York to Philadelphia.
While observing the tense and often adversarial relationship between NATO allies in the Coalition, Jones—who has distinguished himself at RAND and was recently named by Esquire as one of the “Best and Brightest” young policy experts—introduces us to key figures on both sides of the war. Harnessing important new research and integrating thousands of declassified government documents, Jones then analyzes the insurgency from a historical and structural point of view, showing how a rising drug trade, poor security forces, and pervasive corruption undermined the Karzai government, while Americans abandoned a successful strategy, failed to provide the necessary support, and allowed a growing sanctuary for insurgents in Pakistan to catalyze the Taliban resurgence.
Examining what has worked thus far—and what has not—this serious and important book underscores the challenges we face in stabilizing the country and explains where we went wrong and what we must do if the United States is to avoid the disastrous fate that has befallen many of the great world powers to enter the region.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393338515
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
04/12/2010
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
469,573
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Graphs ix

Chronology xi

Introduction xix

1 Descent into Violence 3

2 The Mujahideen Era 23

3 Uncivil War 41

4 The Rise of the Taliban 52

5 Al Qa'ida's Strategic Alliance 69

6 Operation Enduring Freedom 86

7 Light Footprint 109

8 Early Successes 134

9 The Logic of Insurgency 151

10 Collapse of Law and Order 163

11 A Growing Cancer 183

12 The Perfect Storm 203

13 A Three-Front War 223

14 National Caveats 238

15 The Water Must Boil 256

16 Al Qa'ida: A Force Multiplier 279

17 In the Eye of the Storm 296

18 Back to the Future 313

Afterword 327

Acknowledgments 341

Notes 345

Index 417

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In the Graveyard of Empires 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
While much has surely been written about the war in Afghanistan Seth G. Hughes who serves as an advisor and plans officer for the commanding general of U.S. Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan adds new dimensions to an assessment of our country's longest war since Vietnam. Based upon interviews with countless military, diplomats, and experts in national security plus information from declassified government documents IN THE GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES delivers a clear, concisely rendered account of our military efforts in Afghanistan. The begins with what first appeared to be a success, and follows with the many crises that ensued including, of course, how Pakistan became "a sanctuary for the Taliban and Al Qaeda." Jones not only offers what might be best described as an accurate reportorial view of these events but also emphasizes where we erred and what we should do in order to bring stability to that area. William Hughes, a professor of political science at Southern Oregon University provides a succinct, deliberate narration. This is the first time we've heard a reading by Hughes, and we certainly hope it won't be the last. - Gail Cooke
JayHay More than 1 year ago
Seth Jones writes an engaging take on the Afghan picture from a historical context, painting the current international engagement against the backdrop of past invasions and nearly universal failure. While he takes the objective approach of "we don't know how this thing is going to end" he leans heavily towards the reality that every military invasion of Afghanistan has ended in failure. The greatest weakness of the book is that it doesn't go into enough details about the pitfalls of past invasions and explain in details, the shortcomings of their engagement. While he touches on the ancient and industrial age engagements of failed sate invasions, he doesn't go quite enough into depth about the failures of states that dared to engage in a state that refuses to be tamed. On the other hand he does an excellent job of tying the current, international experience in Afghanistan to the long line of engagements that have made Afghanistan what it is today. Perhaps what would have been the greatest contribution for this work would have been a forthright prognostication of what may happen to the international experience and possible ways to mitigate shortfalls. All-in-all Mr. Jones has a gem on his hands and I would enjoy reading another work from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read and helps you understand how the Taliban insurgency heated up. Reading this book helped me understand why General Mcchrystal's new US strategy in Afghanistan is essential for victory. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the war in Afghanistan and why it is far different from wars the US is traditionally used to fighting. It is a good account military and CIA efforts to liberate Afghanistan after 9/11, also the policies and factors off the battlefield that led us to where we are now. You also get general but important information on Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion to the rise of the Taliban in the first chapters. I just finished reading "Ghost Wars" by Steve Coll and this was a great place to pick up where Ghost Wars left off.
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petcoffr More than 1 year ago
Seth Jones gives a great telling of what led to the US's involvement what went wrong and what's next.
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