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Our Latest Longest War : Losing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan
by Aaron B. O'Connell


Overview - The first rule of warfare is to know one's enemy. The second is to know thyself. More than fifteen years and three quarters of a trillion dollars after the US invasion of Afghanistan, it's clear that the United States followed neither rule well.

America's goals in Afghanistan were lofty to begin with: dismantle al Qaeda, remove the Taliban from power, remake the country into a democracy.  Read more...


 
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More About Our Latest Longest War by Aaron B. O'Connell
 
 
 
Overview
The first rule of warfare is to know one's enemy. The second is to know thyself. More than fifteen years and three quarters of a trillion dollars after the US invasion of Afghanistan, it's clear that the United States followed neither rule well.

America's goals in Afghanistan were lofty to begin with: dismantle al Qaeda, remove the Taliban from power, remake the country into a democracy. But not only did the mission come completely unmoored from reality, the United States wasted billions of dollars, and thousands of lives were lost. Our Latest Longest War is a chronicle of how, why, and in what ways the war in Afghanistan failed. Edited by historian and Marine lieutenant colonel Aaron B. O'Connell, the essays collected here represent nine different perspectives on the war--all from veterans of the conflict, both American and Afghan. Together, they paint a picture of a war in which problems of culture and an unbridgeable rural-urban divide derailed nearly every field of endeavor. The authors also draw troubling parallels to the Vietnam War, arguing that deep-running ideological currents in American life explain why the US government has repeatedly used armed nation-building to try to transform failing states into modern, liberal democracies. In Afghanistan, as in Vietnam, this created a dramatic mismatch of means and ends that neither money, technology, nor the force of arms could overcome.

The war in Afghanistan has been the longest in US history, and in many ways, the most confounding. Few who fought in it think it has been worthwhile. These are difficult topics for any American or Afghan to consider, especially those who lost friends or family in it. This sobering history--written by the very people who have been fighting the war--is impossible to ignore.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780226265650
  • ISBN-10: 022626565X
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publish Date: April 2017
  • Page Count: 400
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > Military - Afghan War (2001-)
Books > History > Military - United States
Books > History > United States - 21st Century

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2017-02-13
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this critical anthology, OConnell (Underdogs), a historian and Marine lieutenant colonel, brings together a group of uniquely qualified and talented authors to examine U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. The essays collectively consider a diverse set of issues, including the influence of Washington policy, strategy, training Afghan forces, legitimacy, reconstruction efforts, and special operations. The pieces also reflect their authors professional expertise, academic training, and practical experience of service in Afghanistan. What unites the volume is that each issue is analyzed through the prism of both national and bureaucratic cultures. For example, Robert Neuman, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan (20052007), details a litany of strategic short-sightedness and cultural insults by senior U.S. leaders as evidence of why the war degenerated into a quagmire. All but one of the articles concludes that the cultural obstacles were so significant that success in Afghanistan was destined to be elusive. This is a difficult read about the complex subject of culture as applied to a complex nation-state. Much of it deals with the inability of Americans to solve Afghanistans problems. However, for those interested in U.S. national security issues and the limits of power, OConnells volume is necessary reading. (Apr.)

 
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