Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia
After September 11th , Ahmed Rashid's crucial book Taliban introduced American readers to that now notorious regime. In this new work, he returns to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia to review the catastrophic aftermath of America's failed war on terror. Called "Pakistan's best and bravest reporter" by Christopher Hitchens, Rashid has shown himself to be a voice of reason amid the chaos of present-day Central Asia. Descent Into Chaos is his blistering critique of American policy-a dire warning and an impassioned call to correct these disasterous strategies before these failing states threaten global stability and bring devastation to our world.
A deeply troubling book
By Ralph Blumenau - July 11, 2008
Ahmed Rashid has long been a leading expert on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Muslim states of Central Asia that were once part of the Soviet Union. In 2000, the year before 9/11, he published 'Taliban', a book which politicians rushed to read after the attack on the Twin Towers; and if Central Asia catches fire, they will doubtlessly rush to his following book, 'Jihad', first published in 2002, which is an equally authoritative account of the dangers lurking in that area.
After a brilliant introduction of 21 pages, the first three chapters of the present book give the story of American involvement in Afghanistan before 9/11. The characteristic unreliability of American policy is brought out: help given to the Islamic forces and to Pakistan while the Soviets were in Afghanistan; then a total lack of interest in the period after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, when Afghanistan was first torn apart by competing war-lords and was then overrun by the Taliban.
As the Obama administration rolls-out an ambitious new counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan teeters on the edge of political collapse this detailed account of recent events in "the region" by the veteran Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid could not be more relevant. Unfortunately, it is marred by the author's biases, na?veté, and hyperbole.
Although I take issue with many points in this book, Rashid's central argument is a valid one. Namely, that the US never took Afghanistan seriously after the Soviet withdrawal and consistently underestimated the threat from both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Rashid's biggest gripe is the Bush administration's federalist "warlord strategy" for initially stabilizing Afghanistan and the lack of meaningful nation building efforts since 2001, especially after the invasion of Iraq. He is an unabashed proponent of building a strong central government in Kabul and stripping the regional ethnic bosses of their power, both... read more
A very important work
By Seth J. Frantzman - June 7, 2008
This timely and critical book gives and experts overview of the current situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan and should serve as a wake uo call for policy makers interested in the region and people interested in the threat that instability and renewed Islamism pose. Here we are walked through the current unending war in Afghanistan and given a tour of the history of the American relationship with Pakistan before the author plunges into the nitty gritty of what is taking place. The book examines both the opium crop in Afghanistan and the renewel of the Taliban and their offensives against coalition and government troops. We are given an account of the rise of Islamism and the endurance of Al Quiada in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan and the coming apart of the Musharreff consensus in the wake of the death of Bhutto.
As a last vignette we are taken to Uzbekistan where the author asks 'who lost this country?' In fact this last part is where 'central... read more
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