The primary focus of this book is 2009-2011, so this does not definitively addresses the entirety of the Afghanistan conflict, but "RC" once again does an excellent job of presenting a picture of the issues and personalities involved behind the scenes of the political/military/diplomatic/development decision-making process. "RC" seems to have cultivated impressive levels of access within the military and I think he is very much in line to take the mantle of Bob Woodward in the coming years.
His analysis is well-supported, compelling and should be included prominently in future assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of American foreign policy decisions during the Bush and Obama Administrations. In particular, the lack of political will by the US Administration to have a coherent, comprehensive, focused strategy on the one hand, while the military is asked to sacrifice their lives and LIMBS on the other, is disturbing in the extreme. This is absolutely not a political hack job intended to esteem or tear down one group of political actors, rather, it is a sobering analysis of the structural limitations of our Federal government as a whole. Any one of the several contradictory approaches to Afghanistan reconstruction outlined in the book could have produced some measure of success if pursued...but the pursuit of all these contradictory approaches simultaneously could not conceivably be successful. Our "leaders", nonetheless, seem to have tried...
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