The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan

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As the bloodshed in Iraq intensified in 2005, Afghanistan quickly faded from the nation’s front pages to become the “other war,” supposedly going well and largely ignored. In fact, the insurgency in Afghanistan was about to break out with renewed force, the drug problem was worsening, and international coordination was losing focus. That July, Ronald Neumann arrived in Kabul from Baghdad as the U.S. ambassador, bringing the experience of a career diplomat whose professional lifetime had been spent in the greater Middle East, beginning thirty-eight years earlier in the same country in which it ended—Afghanistan.

Neumann’s account of how the war in Afghanistan unfolded over the next two years is rich with heretofore unexamined details of operations, tensions, and policy decisions. He demonstrates why the United States was slow to recognize the challenge it faced and why it failed to make the requisite commitment of economic, military, and civilian resources. His account provides a new understanding of the problems of alliance warfare in conducting simultaneous nation building and counterinsurgency. Honest in recounting failures as well as successes, the book is must reading as much for students of international affairs who want to understand the reality of diplomatic policymaking and implementation in the field as for those who want to understand the nation’s complex “other war.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Students of the policy process and those interested in civil-military relations will find useful insights here.”

“This is an excellent book. Ambassador Neumann has produced an engaging and valuable memoir of the experiences of an ambassador at war. The Other War is a fascinating compilation of key events, policy analysis, and enduring themes that should command the attention of foreign policy and national security practitioners and scholars. It is a highly relevant book for both informing the continuing and immediate challenges of Afghanistan and for enriching the study of broad and timeless themes at the heart of diplomacy and war.”

"A powerful acount of the author's role as the U.S. ambassador who came to Kabul from Baghdad as the U.S. ambassador with a lifetime in the greater Middle East."

"[T]he book is must-reading, as much for students of international affairs who want to understand the reality of diplomatic policymaking and implementation in the field as for those who want to understand our nation's complex engagement in Afghanistan."

“From Vietnam combat soldier to Iraq and Afghanistan combat diplomat, Ron Neumann has seen, if not all, then most of it. In his first-person account of his time in Kabul, he recounts the possibilities and pitfalls of 'armed nation building.' President Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan needs to be informed by this tale. Clearly, a vision of a nation is not sufficient to prevail. As Ambassador Neumann indicates, execution and accountability are essential. His thirty-seven years of government service bears this out. Read this book, learn the lessons therein or fail in Afghanistan.”

“Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann’s The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan truly stands apart from the field for its frank insider advice on crafting the most effective policy on Afghanistan. A lucid and personal portrayal of one of America’s longest-running conflicts, The Other War stands the critical test of a change of administration in the United States and a retooling of Washington's foreign policy. In fact, Neumann’s book should be required reading for all interested in the current administration’s AfPak strategy. In this engaging firsthand history of recent events in Afghanistan, the veteran American diplomat reminds policymakers that grand strategies only work when the tactical details have been worked out on the ground.”

“A formidable diplomat, a thoughtful war strategist, and a hands-on operator, Neumann lends his old-world intellect and curiosity to this fascinating insider account of the American struggle to rebuild Afghanistan while coping with the U.S. bureaucratic machine. This is a deeply insightful and thoughtful book, at times amusing and always frank. The United States needs more Ron Neumanns if it is to succeed in Afghanistan. Neumann is the epitome of the soldier, statesman, and scholar on the front line of the war against extremism.”

“Ambassador Neumann has written an extraordinarily important account of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan during his tenure in Kabul. The book is unmatched in its rich description, frank analysis, and lucid recommendations -- and should be required reading for any one interested in understanding the complexities of America's involvement in Afghanistan.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597974271
  • Publisher: Potomac Books
  • Publication date: 10/31/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,271,316
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald E. Neumann, now president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, served previously as a deputy assistant secretary and three times as ambassador, to Algeria (1994–97), Bahrain (2001–4), and finally to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2005–7). Prior to his stint in Afghanistan, Neumann, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served in Baghdad from February 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then as the embassy’s principal interlocutor with the Multinational Command. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.
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Table of Contents

1 First days 1

2 Elections and more 18

3 Fall 2005 31

4 Wake up, Washington 51

5 Afghan institutions and donor cooperation 80

6 Where is the margin for victory? 108

7 Progress, not victory 131

8 Force, money, and decisions 159

9 Final days 181

10 Wrap-up 197

Epilogue 207

Notes 219

Index 231

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