22 September 2010

Looking Back Over Afghanistan

The New York TImes has a set of three good reviews of books about Afghanistan...

Security policy in Afghanistan may be powered by sublimated imperial nostalgia, but most of the really valuable practical memories and lessons of empire have long since been forgotten. Veteran journalist and author Anatol Lieven reviews three recent books that illustrate what we should have known about the Taliban.

But the one everyone cares about is Woodward's book about the Obama administration

Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward is said to portray an uncertain administration as the president agrees to a troop surge of 30,000.

In one excerpt leaked to US media, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke sums up US policy by saying: "It can't work."

In another, President Obama tells a meeting he wants an exit strategy.

A number of US media outlets have had access to the book, including the Washingon Post and the New York Times, which said it had obtained a leaked copy.

Among the main points of the book that have emerged are:

Afghanistan adviser Lt Gen Douglas Lute and Mr Holbrooke appear dubious about US strategy
President Obama rejected a Pentagon request for 40,000 extra troops
His main concern is portrayed as reducing US troop numbers
A withdrawal timetable was set because the president could not "lose the whole Democratic Party"
Former national intelligence director Admiral Dennis Blair fought with both the White House chief-of-staff and counter-terrorism adviser
BBC North America editor Mark Mardell says that what is perhaps most significant in the revelations is the hint of future conflicts over the timetable for a US withdrawal.

The top US soldier in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, is said to believe the military could "get more time on the clock", before being told by a senior adviser: "That's a dramatic misreading of this president."

By: Brant

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good reviews, and a conclusion on the future of Afghanistan that fits my view of houw it will all roll (or wobble) out.