Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan, 2002-2207

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Overview

Since the Allied invasion of Afghanistan in 2002, the Bush administration has celebrated the imminent demise of the Taliban, with claims of a "moral and psychological defeat" playing a prominent role in the presidential elections of 2004. Some commentators suggested that "reconstruction and development" had won over the Afghan population, despite widespread criticism of the meager distribution of aid and failed attempts at "nation building," not to mention the infamous corruption of Kabul's power-hoarding elites.

In March 2006, both Afghan and American officials continued to assert that "the Taliban are no longer able to fight large battles." Unfortunately that theory would soon collapse beneath the weight of a series of particularly ferocious clashes, causing the mood in the American media to turn from one of optimism to one of defeatism and impending catastrophe. Suddenly faced with a very sophisticated and creative form of guerilla warfare, the West found itself at a loss to fight an insurgency that bore little resemblance to its former enemy.

In the first book ever to be published on the neo-Taliban, Antonio Giustozzi provocatively argues that the appearance of the neo-Taliban should in no way have been a surprise. Beginning in 2003, a growing body of evidence began to surface that cast doubt on the official interpretation of the conflict. With the West cutting corners to maintain peace within the country, which included tolerating Afghanistan's burgeoning opium trade, the Taliban was able to regroup and grow in strength, weapons, and recruits. Giustozzi's book poses a bold challenge to contemporary accounts of the invasion and its aftermath and is an important investigation into the rise and dangerous future of the neo-Taliban.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Military History - Lester W. Grau

An important book as it shows the evolution of the movement [of the Taliban] into a more lethal entity... Current, relevant, and thought-provoking.

Military Review - Kevin D. Stringer

The definitive volume on the resurgent Taliban for policymakers, diplomats, and military leaders... a must-read.

Foreign Affairs

This detailed study... chronicles the rise of what Giustozzi labels 'the neo-Taliban'. Separate chapters treat how and why the neo-Taliban were recruited, their organization, their tactics and strategy, and the counterinsurgency efforts of the Afghan government and its outside supporters. With copious cross-referencing, he works in such subjects asthe continued involvement of Pakistan, the drug trade, neo-Taliban relations with Al Qaeda, and the rural-versus-urban dimension of this struggle. There are also several perceptive comparisons with insurgencies elsewhere in the world. [Giustozzi] concludes that reining in the neo-Taliban by arms or diplomacy will be more difficult now than reining in the original was five years ago. He also sees the group's strategy as having shifted in its new form from national resistance to global jihad.'

Asia Times

A revelatory new book.

Journal of Military History

An important book as it shows the evolution of the movement [of the Taliban] into a more lethal entity... Current, relevant, and thought-provoking.

— Lester W. Grau

Military Review

The definitive volume on the resurgent Taliban for policymakers, diplomats, and military leaders... a must-read.

— Kevin D. Stringer

International Socialist Review

An excellent recent publication.

Middle East Quarterly

A timely and relevant collection

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231700108
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/24/2009
  • Series: Columbia/Hurst Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 2.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Antonio Giustozzi has spent more than a decade visiting, researching, and writing on Afghanistan. He is based at the Crisis States Research Centre at the London School of Economics, where he focuses on the political aspects of insurgency and warlordism. His most recent book is War, Politics and Society in Afghanistan, 1978-92.

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