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Hearts, Minds, and Hydras: Fighting Terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, America, and Beyond--Dilemmas and Lessons

Hearts, Minds, and Hydras: Fighting Terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, America, and Beyond--Dilemmas and Lessons

by William Nester


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Insurgencies are like the hydra, the many-headed beast of Greek mythology. Once one begins, the measures a government takes to eliminate militants—to cut off the insurgency’s head—can provoke countless others to join the enemy ranks. Tactical victories often breed strategic defeats. Traditional “search, destroy, and withdraw” missions that rely on firepower to wipe out rebels frequently destroy the livelihoods and loved ones of innocent people caught in the cross fire. U.S. troops have seen the pattern repeated as their initially successful offensives toppled enemy regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq but soon transformed into grueling guerrilla wars.Hearts, Minds, and Hydras outlines the reasons for these worsening situations. The most crucial were self-defeating decisions made by the George W. Bush administration, whose neoconservatism and hubris rather than careful analysis of genuine threats, national interests, and reasonable options shaped its policies. Although the Americans were eventually able to contain and diminish the insurgency in Iraq, the one in Afghanistan not only steadily intensified but also spread into neighboring Pakistan. The near abandonment of the war in Afghanistan and the neoconservative campaign in Iraq were godsends for al Qaeda and all other enemies of the United States. Then, as America’s position deteriorated in both wars, the neoconservatives became even more determined to stay the course. William Nester analyzes some of the more prominent dilemmas haunting American policymakers now struggling to win in Afghanistan, fight terrorism in the United States, and reshape their relationship with Pakistan. In doing so, he reveals the nature of that all-too-real monster of insurgency, what feeds it, and how to starve it.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597979504
Publisher: Potomac Books
Publication date: 09/01/2012
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

William Nester is a professor in the Department of Government and Politics at St. John's University in New York City. He is the award-winning author of thirty-seven books on multiple dimensions of international relations, American national security, military history, and the nature of power. His "George Rogers Clark: I Glory in War" won the Army Historical Foundation's best biography award for 2013. His "Titan: The Art of British Power in the Age of Revolution and Napoleon" won the New York Military Affairs Symposium's 2016 Arthur Goodzett Book Award.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction ix

1 September 11, 2001 1

2 Know Your Enemy: Al Qaeda versus Its Enemies 5

3 Know Your War: Terrorism versus Counterterrorism 23

4 Clinton and Bush versus al Qaeda before September 11 51

5 The Post-9/11 Neoconservative War on Terror and Tyranny 73

6 The War in Afghanistan: Round One 85

7 The War on Terror at Home 115

8 The Global War on Terror 153

9 The War for American Hearts and Minds 183

10 The War for International Hearts and Minds 193

11 The War in Afghanistan: Round Two 213

12 The War in Pakistan 235

13 Consequences 257

Notes 269

Index 297

About the Author 307

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