Review: The Good War – Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan

4 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Stabilization & Reconstruction
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Jack Fairweather

4.0 out of 5 stars
British, CIA, US Flag Level View — Scores Settled, Some Facts Wrong or Missing, November 9, 2014

This is a preliminary review. My usual summary review with detail will be posted in a day or two. I did a fast read last night and formed the following impressions:

01 This is a British perspective heavily weighted by a very narrow range of sources that favor a small number of US Department of State, CIA, and US military officers.

02 It has enough meat to demand a second detailed reading with my usual extensive notes, such as I just provided for Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure – A War Doomed by the Coalition’s Strategies, Policies and Political Correctness.

03 There are a number of serious mistakes in this book, including blind acceptance of nonsense that could only have come for Abdullah and Atta and a few lost souls in the US Government who are completely out of touch with ground truth — including slandering Dostom, who is one of the only real men and combat commanders across the entire spectrum of bureaucrat-crooks characteristic of Afghan leadership. The author is misguided on all matters related to electoral fraud, and needs to talk to my colleagues Andrew Garfield and Robert Young Pelton to get it right.

04 Ghani, whom I happen to admire very much, is treated very well in this book, and that is one reason the book stays at five stars for this preliminary review.

05 Karzai is treated in an interesting fashion that requires a careful assessment — there is a lot the author is either over-looking or covering up, but there is a great deal here I am going to have to sift through very carefully.

06 Another reason this book is a solid five is because it properly evaluates the idiocy of the US Department of State (Clinton, Dobbins, Holbrook) in refusing to integrate the Pashtun Taliban in the early days when they were reeling and a unity government was achievable.

07 The index is marginal — corruption, for example, is not in the index, it is mostly a lightweight name index and unworthy of what could be a very serious work. As I read through the book my greatest impression was that the author did not talk to many Afghan sources, and those that he did tended to be either Northern Alliance or State Department puppets.

I was in Afghanistan in 2013 and was the only analyst in the entire US system who started saying from September 2013 that the BSA would never be signed by Karzai. This infuriated my chain of command, all too comfortable buying into the uninformed nonsense coming out of the US Embassy and ISAF. As I read this book, I am reminded of the arrogance and ignorance of policy mandarins, the shallowness and naivete of Western intelligence, the complicity of the media and academia in failing to question authority, and chasm between the people on the ground — the Afghans — and the forces of Empire oblivious to reality. On balance I am certain this book will remain a five, and that regardless of its flaws, it is a most important contribution to the literature and one certain to force me to revisit other sources as I blend a new appraisal of where we all went so wrong.

Other books on Afghanistan I have reviewed here at Amazon with summary notes include:

Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War
Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times
Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia
Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan—and the Path to Victory
Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency
Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World
They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars: The Untold Story
Surrender to Kindness: One Man’s Epic Journey for Love and Peace

I have not reviewed the BELOW book just out [yes, I did read the ABOVE book], , it appears interesting. Until we have a proper debriefing of all the warlords and many of the presidential candidates from 2009 and 2014, we will not have a complete picture. It would also be helpful to have a multinational conference including professionals from the adjacent countries, China, Iran, Russia, and Turkey, among others. The subversive roles of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Republic also require deeper evaluation.

Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

After considering other options and my time-energy value, I am reducing this books from five to four stars, and choosing not to read it a second time to harvest additional detailed comments — just not worth it.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability