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Leaving without Losing: The War on Terror after Iraq and Afghanistan
     

Leaving without Losing: The War on Terror after Iraq and Afghanistan

by Mark N. Katz
 

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As the United States withdraws its combat troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, politicians, foreign policy specialists, and the public are worrying about the consequences of leaving these two countries. Neither nation can be considered stable, and progress toward democracy in them—a principal aim of America and the West—is fragile at best. But, international

Overview

As the United States withdraws its combat troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, politicians, foreign policy specialists, and the public are worrying about the consequences of leaving these two countries. Neither nation can be considered stable, and progress toward democracy in them—a principal aim of America and the West—is fragile at best. But, international relations scholar Mark N. Katz asks: Could ending both wars actually help the United States and its allies to overcome radical Islam in the long term?

Drawing lessons from the Cold War, Katz makes the case that rather than signaling the decline of American power and influence, removing military forces from Afghanistan and Iraq puts the U.S. in a better position to counter the forces of radical Islam and ultimately win the war on terror. He explains that since both wars will likely remain intractable, for Washington to remain heavily involved in either is counter-productive. Katz argues that looking to its Cold War experience would help the U.S. find better strategies for employing America’s scarce resources to deal with its adversaries now. This means that, although leaving Afghanistan and Iraq may well appear to be a victory for America’s opponents in the short term—as was the case when the U.S. withdrew from Indochina—the larger battle with militant Islam can be won only by refocusing foreign and military policy away from these two quagmires.

This sober, objective assessment of what went wrong in the U.S.–led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the ways the West can disentangle itself and still move forward draws striking parallels with the Cold War. Anyone concerned with the future of the War on Terror will find Katz’s argument highly thought provoking.

Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
A fine pick for any military or political science holding.

Choice

Katz offers a strong, cogent argument.

New Zealand International Review - Anthony Smith
A model of its kind.

Middle East Policy - Christopher Preble
This slender volume is packed with many insights. A collection of short chapters, some not much longer than op-eds, reveals author Mark Katz's wisdom and prudence when it comes to the use of military power, and the need for patience and persistence when pursuing long-term objectives... His straightforward prose engages the reader in what often feels like a quiet one-on-one conversation... The book is suffused with a tone of welcome optimism, but not naïveté.

World Future Review
A well-written and well-organized presentation of possibilities and angles that counterterrorism policy makers and analysts should consider.

Publishers Weekly
Katz (Russia and Arabia), professor of government and politics at George Mason University, assesses the future of the “War on Terror” after Iraq and Afghanistan in this timely, if speculative, analysis. Using the cold war as a template, Katz argues that withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, like the U.S. withdrawal from Indochina, “need not mean defeat.” He further speculates about the possibility of “a surprising wave of democratization” in the Greater Middle East similar to what happened in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Communist governments. However, Katz cautions that the current broader conflict “will continue for years or even decades to come.” While conceding that there “do not appear to be any easy options,” the author labors, with only partial success, to draw parallels that support a satisfactory conclusion to the “War on Terror.” In fact, even in his calculus, the potential downside of withdrawal—e.g., loss of U.S. influence in the region and chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan—appear to outweigh the upside, e.g., that repressive Islamic regimes will prove unpopular. As the U.S. searches for a way forward, Katz’s largely objective and thoughtful analysis offers much to consider. (May)
New Zealand International Review
A model of its kind.

— Anthony Smith

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781421411835
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
08/31/2013
Pages:
168
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.41(d)

What People are Saying About This

Barbara Slavin
In this lucid and articulate book, Mark Katz makes the counter-intuitive argument that the United States might actually ‘win’ the war on terror by extricating itself from conflicts in the Muslim world. Drawing on the history of previous ideological movements, Katz suggests that radical Islamic groups— without the benefit of a unifying external enemy—will overreach, fight among themselves, alienate their followers and even reach out to the United States, as have former U.S. adversaries China and Vietnam. This book should be required reading for all students of foreign policy and especially U.S. presidential candidates

Paul R. Pillar

A lucid and highly informative guide to thinking about how to confront violent extremism in the Middle East and South Asia. The many insights Mark Katz draws from the Cold War experience provide a sound basis for navigating successfully through the perplexing problems related to international terrorism.

Paul R. Pillar, former deputy chief, CIA Counterterrorist Center

Barbara Slavin

In this lucid and articulate book, Mark Katz makes the counter-intuitive argument that the United States might actually ‘win’ the war on terror by extricating itself from conflicts in the Muslim world. Drawing on the history of previous ideological movements, Katz suggests that radical Islamic groups— without the benefit of a unifying external enemy—will overreach, fight among themselves, alienate their followers and even reach out to the United States, as have former U.S. adversaries China and Vietnam. This book should be required reading for all students of foreign policy and especially U.S. presidential candidates

Barbara Slavin, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and author of Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S. and the Twisted Path to Confrontation

Francis Fukuyama

Mark Katz makes a concise and readable argument for why withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan will serve to weaken the forces of radical Islam, and along the way provides a trenchant critique of the uses to which American power has been put over the past decade.

Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University

Geoffrey Kemp

Emotions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the continued struggle against radical Islam still run high. Mark Katz's new book Leaving without Losing provides exactly the balanced and realistic analysis necessary to understand the complex nature of modern terrorism and the unique challenges we face in confronting it. A first class study.

Geoffrey Kemp, director of Regional Security Programs, the Center for the National Interest

Emile Nakhleh

I highly recommend this informative and thoughtfully argued book. The book discusses the marginalization of al-Qa'ida and its radical paradigm in light of winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the Arab Spring. Katz offers a sobering analysis of 'what went wrong' during the first decade of the war on terror.

Emile Nakhleh, former director, CIA Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program, and author of A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America's Relations with the Muslim World

Meet the Author

Mark N. Katz is a professor of government and politics at George Mason University. He has authored several books, including Russia and Arabia: Soviet Foreign Policy toward the Arabian Peninsula, also published by Johns Hopkins.

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