Ed 's Reviews > In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan

In the Graveyard of Empires by Seth G. Jones
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May 10, 2011

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bookshelves: afghanistan
Read 2 times. Last read May 11, 2011.

Jones is good on the structure of the Afghan opposition to first the USSR and now the US. This is a useful although not essential addition to the literature. Based on good access to a number of important sources including ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Jones examines what went wrong in Afghanistan and what might have gone right if the effort there hadn't been sidetracked to invade and try to occupy Iraq.

The U.S. mission to the inhospitable mountains and plains of this Central Asian redoubt shows how little we learn from past wars: counterinsurgency is once again the strategic initiative of the day. It has never really worked when applied by the US since true counterinsurgency, like that practiced by the government of Sri Lanka against the Tamil insurgency and civil war, involves concentration camps, selective large scale slaughter and generally brutalizing those who, through ethnic or politcal ties, support the rebels. It is vicious, bloody and violates the laws of war and is a crime against humanity by its very definition.

Jones has an excellent grasp of the players on both (or rather all) sides of the war in Afghanistan and comes to the inevitable if unlikely to happen conclusion that nothing will be accomplished without the agreement of Pakistan and India.
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