The book is a neat history of US engagement in Afghanistan, with abbreviated coverage of Afghan history from Alexander’s time through the Soviet invasion, followed by much more detailed chapters on the post-9/11 struggle. Wissing spent considerable time in Afghanistan and includes many personal anecdotes alongside the more formal presentation. His conclusion is sad: US money is funding the Taliban, via:
– Dollars intended for reconstruction and rebuilding being siphoned off by corrupt officials;
– Ignorance and naivete in the contracting process that sends money to Taliban-affiliated subcontractors;
– USG/CIA collusion to allow farmers to continue to grow poppies;
– Direct payoffs to warlords and others known to work with the Taliban, seeking short-term gains whilst sacrificing any hopes for long-term success.
But never mind all that. The book is also chock full of interesting quotes about Afghanistan, so we’ll cheer ourselves up by playing “Afghanistan Quotable Quotes.” I’ll list the quotation, you guess who said it. Answers below.
A) “It’s the perfect war, everyone is making money.”
B) “This is a noble cause, and you will always be honored for seeing it through to the end.”
C) “Easy to march into, hard to march out of.”
D) “A war begun for no wise purpose, carried on with a strange mixture of rashness and timidity,brought to a close after suffering and disaster, without much glory attached.”
E) “The less the Afghans see of us, the less they dislike us.”
F) “It will be over in three to four weeks.”
G) “I took my revenge after a hundred years, and I only regret that I acted in haste.”
H) “We were going to have to bomb them up to the stone age”
I) “When I take action, it’s going to be decisive.”
A) US intelligence official, sometime after 9/11
B) Alexander the Great, on starting his invasion of Afghanistan, 329 BC.
C) Alexander the Great, later in his invasion of Afghanistan.
D) Chaplain, after the defeat of the British Army in Afghanistan, 1843.
E) British Major General Fredrick Roberts, after the second British incursion into Afghanistan
F) Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, as the Russians took a shot at conquering Afghanistan, 1979.
G) Pashtun proverb.
H) Unnamed Clinton administration official.
I) George W. Bush
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