Important History Not Understood By Most, November 22, 2013
The historical half is mind-glazing, the more recent chapters highly relevant to understanding the deep ignorance of the US Intelligence Community and the US policy (prostitution) community these past 12 years.
I have given the book four stars in part because it is not designed to illuminate the threat in visualizable terms, and it is not up to date. Now that Saudi Arabia has declared war on the USA and the West generally (joining with Israel in a truly bizarre satanic alliance), and on Iran and the Shi’ite portion of Afghanistan specifically, this book absolutely merits updating and republication, hopefully with some decent maps and graphics and tables this next time around.
Early on in a nut-shell: Wahhabism spread in the 19th century, first throughout the Arabian penninsula and then to the Indian subcontinent including what are now India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Wahabbism is both a fundamentalist ideology that wins over deep converts, and a form of mercenary religion, buying its way into susceptible corners.
The most important point stressed throughout the book is that Wahhabism is outside the mainstream of Muslim society.
The big surprise for me, and one reason I am distressed at how badly we prepare people for service in this area, is the deep history of Wahhabism among the Pashtun. Today Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent Qatar and the United Arab Republic seem bent on funding a religious war in Central and South Asia, and no one seems to be paying attention to this emergent threat. I would go so far as to say we are now, in this region, where we were in 1988-1989 when the Saudis first began funding the global Islamic outreach program led by Sheikh Binbaz and represented in part by young Bin Laden.
For those who say that comparing the current war in Afghanistan to the Vietnam War is taking things too far, here’s a reality check: It’s not taking things far enough. From the origins of these North-South conflicts to the role of insurgents and the pointlessness of this week’s Afghan presidential elections, it’s impossible to ignore the similarities between these wars. The places and faces may have changed but the enemy is old and familiar. The sooner the United States recognizes this, the sooner it can stop making the same mistakes in Afghanistan.
After appointing Gen. Stanley McChrystal the new commander in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave him two months to write an analysis of the situation there in yet another review of U.S. strategy. But after rumors leaked out that McChrystal would ask for another increase in U.S. troops, it appears that Gates decided he would not wait for McChrystal’s finished report. On Aug. 2, he summoned McChrystal and his deputy, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, to a hastily arranged meeting in Belgium which also included Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis, McChrystal’s direct boss Gen. David Petraeus, and under secretary of defense for policy Michele Flournoy.
On Aug. 5, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrellbriefed reporters on the results of the unusual Sunday meeting. According to Morrell, Gates instructed McChrystal to consider a few additional, and unspecified, issues in his report. Gates also instructed McChrystal to take more time, likely postponing the delivery of the report into September.
Finally, Morrell explained that McChrystal’s report will not include any discussion or request for additional “resources” (meaning U.S. troops and money) for Afghanistan. If McChrystal wants to make such a request, Morrell said, he will do so separately and at a later time.
Does the Job–We All Need to “See” This Book’s Pages
July 4, 2007
There are enough reviews here so that my summative review is not necessary. I will only say that this is a powerful book, and it reminded me of General Eisenhower’s order that all those living in the vicinity of the death camps be marched past the stacked bodies so they could see what their abdication of morality had allowed to happen.
This is mostly a book of photographs. If you want deeper text, including a spectacular (unintended pun)chapter on “Looking” and how it was the crowds that validated “spectacle lynching,” then you must also buy Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob. The title is misleading, but the content of that book is not–that is the deep academic and psychological review that complements this book.
If yoy only wish to buy one book, of lasting value for generations, buy this one. If you can afford two and want to study the underlying social and psychological environments that allowed whites to treat blacks as if they were animals, buy both.