The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda

The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda

by Peter L. Bergen

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Overview

The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda by Peter L. Bergen

TEN YEARS HAVE PASSED since the shocking attacks on the World Trade Center, and after seven years of conflict, the last U.S. combat troops left Iraq—only to move into Afghanistan, where the ten-year-old fight continues: the war on terror rages with no clear end in sight. In The Longest War Peter Bergen offers a comprehensive history of this war and its evolution, from the strategies devised in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to the fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond. Unlike any other book on this subject, here Bergen tells the story of this shifting war’s failures and successes from the perspectives of both the United States and al-Qaeda and its allies. He goes into the homes of al-Qaeda members, rooting into the source of their devotion to terrorist causes, and spends time in the offices of the major players shaping the U.S. strategic efforts in the region. At a time when many are frustrated or fatigued with what has become an enduring multigenerational conflict, this book will provide an illuminating narrative that not only traces the arc of the fight but projects its likely future.

Weaving together internal documents from al-Qaeda and the U.S. offices of counterterrorism, first-person interviews with top-level jihadists and senior Washington officials, along with his own experiences on the ground in the Middle East, Bergen balances the accounts of each side, revealing how al-Qaeda has evolved since 9/11 and the specific ways the U.S. government has responded in the ongoing fight.

Bergen also uncovers the strategic errors committed on both sides—the way that al-Qaeda’s bold attack on the United States on 9/11 actually undermined its objective and caused the collapse of the Taliban and the destruction of the organization’s safe haven in Afghanistan, and how al-Qaeda is actually losing the war of ideas in the Muslim world. The book also shows how the United States undermined its moral position in this war with its actions at Guantánamo and coercive interrogations—including the extraordinary rendition of Abu Omar, who was kidnapped by the CIA in Milan in 2003 and was tortured for four years in Egyptian prisons; his case represents the first and only time that CIA officials have been charged and convicted of the crime of kidnapping.

In examining other strategic blunders the United States has committed, Bergen offers a scathing critique of the Clinton and Bush administrations’ inability to accurately assess and counter the al-Qaeda threat, Bush’s deeply misguided reasons for invading Iraq—including the story of how the invasion was launched based, in part, on the views of an obscure academic who put forth theories about Iraq’s involvement with al-Qaeda—and the Obama administration’s efforts in Afghanistan.

At a critical moment in world history The Longest War provides the definitive account of the ongoing battle against terror.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743278935
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 01/11/2011
Pages: 473
Product dimensions: 9.28(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.41(d)

About the Author

Peter Bergen is the author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama Bin Laden I Know, both named among the best nonfiction books of the year by The Washington Post. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic and has worked as a correspondent for National Geographic television, Discovery, and CNN. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Time, Vanity Fair, among other publications.

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The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
PoorRichardPJ More than 1 year ago
There is a little-known sidebar story to the broader saga of America's encounter with violent Jihadism that runs as follows: the dogged, thorough, insightful efforts of a coterie of journalists has been of enormous benefit to thousands of hundreds of people whose work puts them in the anti-terrorism business. These journalists have been and continue to be a valuable source of on-the-ground intelligence and independent analysis. None has had greater influence than Peter Bergen.The Longest War, the latest in Mr. Bergen's long list of stellar books and articles, is certain to be a work widely consulted and relied upon. He divides his book into two sections, the first of which he labels Hubris. Mr. Bergen was one of the very few prior to 9/11 to recognize the danger Usama bin Laden and al-Qaeda posed for the U.S. Like so many of those who were voices in the wilderness, he is sharply critical of what he sees as a lack of government attentiveness to the al-Qaeda threat circa late summer 2001. Unlike those other voices, Mr. Bergen does not explicitly state that greater attentiveness to the threat might well have averted 9/11. But the contours of the implication are fairly easy to make out. It is an interesting thing to speculate about, not in order to affix blame but to acquire a better understanding of our anti-terrorism efforts. In many respects, the problem pre-9/11 is the same problem we face today - having to protect a vast number of targets from people who are attempting to operate beneath radar screens. The "we" here is not just the Federal government and foreign allied governments but local law enforcement entities and the general public. To go back over the chain of events that led up to the plane hijackings, it is clear that many, many people saw pieces of the unfolding plot and that almost no one recognized what they were seeing as anything worthy of greater scrutiny, much less as a piece of a terrorist plot. This was not so much due to lack of attentiveness as it was lack of experience with covert terrorist operations. To put this another way, before dots can be connected they must first be recognized. And this ability to do so is heavily dependent on experience. Even today with plenty of experience under our belts, identifying dots remains a challenge. Witness the Underwear Bomber of December, 2010. In any case, I am skeptical that greater awareness on the part of the Bush Administration would have made a difference. Mr. Bergen reserves his harshest criticism in the Hubris section for Usama bin Laden, who thought that attacking would, at worst, lead to a few bombs being dropped on Afghanistan before the Americans would fold their tents and leave the Middle East. Once this happened, he believed, the governments of that region would collapse and a new era of Islamic-based rule woudl emerge. As Mr. Bergen notes, there has never been a greater U.S. presence in the Middle East, the Taliban government was dissolved, and opinion in the Muslim world holds bin Laden in low regard. As for regimes collapsing, that may be now be taking place in Egypt but it has nothing to do with 9/11 and Ayman al-Zawahiri can only watch events in his homeland from his hiding spot in Pakistan. There is much more to say but no room to say it. Suffice it that anyone wanting a concise but comprehensive account of our battle with al-Qaeda need look no further than The Longest War. It is unquestionably the best a
RolloRT More than 1 year ago
Peter Bergen has done an excellent job of explaining the Iranian an Afganistan conflicts we are up to our necks in. He gives an unbiased perspective of America's response and strategies on the fight against terrorism in the Middle East. A must read for anyone who thinks they know the truth about Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and their relationship with the al-Queda, the Taliban and the jihadist movement. It is also an excellent assessment and timeline of the "war on terror" since 9/11. I really enjoyed the info on Osama bin Laden and the other figures in the jihadist movement around the world. Loved it, very insightful, "RolloRT"
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MIchael Jones More than 1 year ago
As a OIF war veteran I found this book to be very informative and eye opening. A definite read.
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