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Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden,… (2004)

by Steve Coll

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2,186316,068 (4.13)46
To what extent did America's best intelligence analysts grasp the rising threat of Islamist radicalism? Who tried to stop bin Laden and why did they fail? Comprehensively and for the first time, this Pulitzer Prize-winning work by journalist Steve Coll recounts the history of the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and sowed the seeds of the September 11 attacks. Based on scrupulous research and firsthand accounts by key government, intelligence, and military personnel both foreign and American, Ghost Wars details the secret history of the CIA's role in Afghanistan, the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of bin Laden, and the efforts by US forces to find and assassinate bin Laden in Afghanistan.… (more)
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» See also 46 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Coll, in 'Ghost Wars,' confirms what we knew all along-that 9/11 and Islamism is a byproduct of the CIA's sponsorship of the Mujhaideen backfiring. While it is bulky (a plethora of jargon), it is also riveting on account of the fact that it discusses the lead up to the War On Terrorism and after factually and with comprehensive evidence. A must read for all military analysts and scholars. ( )
  Amarj33t_5ingh | Jul 8, 2022 |
Mjög áhugaverð bók eftir Steve Coll en með mjöög langan titil: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.
Titillinn segir kannski dálítið um stærð bókarinnar því hún er 712 bls. en ítarleg og í henni er starfsemi leyniþjónustu BNA, ríkisstjórnarinnar og utanríkisþjónustunnar fylgt vel eftir þegar hún reynir að beita sér með misjöfnum árangri og visku í Mið-Asíu. Fékk Pulitzer-verðlaunin 2005 og er vel að þeim komin.
Það er nokkuð magnað að fá svo góða innsýn í málefni sem hafa verið efst á baugi í fjölmiðlum á Vesturlöndum síðustu árin og ekki síst nú þegar islamskir öfgamenn beita sér jafngrimmilega og áberandi.
Rannsókn Colls byggir á fjölda skjala sem létt hefur verið leynd af, viðtölum við þátttakendur í leynistríðum BNA og rannsóknarskjölum þingnefnda eftir árásirnar á Tvíburaturnana. Vel skrifað og ekkert dregið af við útskýringar á forheimsku bandarískra stjórnvalda þegar þau velja frekar að styðja islamska öfgamenn gegn Sovíetherjunum í Afganistan heldur en hófsöm öfl innan afganskra ættbálka. Það er líka margvert að sjá hvað spilling innan pakistanskra valdaafla hefur verið mikil og að þar eru öfl sem unnu gagngert gegn vestrænum þjóðum. ( )
  SkuliSael | Apr 28, 2022 |
Looong book, but still an enjoyable and informative read that gives a number of background stories and human connections which when read in conjunction with other works such as Ahmed Rashid's "Taliban", gives another window into Afghanistan before September 11th 2001. Particularly interesting for the CIA's point of view and the intricacies of the international political situation. deserves a longer review ( )
1 vote royragsdale | Sep 22, 2021 |
Essential, bloody, real and tragic.

One important underlying issue is what this means for the future, because there are similarities between the inflation of the Afghan government with western cash and the situation in South Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s. Does an Afghan security force left to fend for itself go the way of the South Vietnamese military after "Vietnamisation"? Before you say you don't care, ask the family of every casualty in Afghanistan what their sacrifice was for.

The CIA has been doing this stuff for a long time. In fact, when Afghans were fist trying to rid themselves of the Taliban, (even today roughly 7% want them), the US had helped them with money, and paid Massoud to do it. Finally, AQ helped the Taliban assassinate Massoud, on 2001. Even now, I suppose, Karzai needs a bit of money to do things. The Trumptards shell out a lot more to Palestinians.

The West had a strange fascination for 20th century Afghanistan. This small, poor but unbelievably robust country became a symbol for foreign misadventure, mistakes, misguided policy and misplaced ambition. The sun never began to set on the Portuguese Empire here, like it did in Macau, Mozambique, Angola, Brasil, São Tomé and Príncipe, East Timor, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, etc.; in Afghanistan the mighty Red Soviet Bear got trapped in the mountains, and the American eagle got its wings clipped. This astonishing account of these invasions, resistances, shadowy leaders and chess moves fully deserves its Pulitzer Prize. As well as a thorough, analytical military and political history, it's also something of a page turning thriller. There are CIA agents handing over briefcases of dollars in desert tents, disappearing American missiles, secret exchanges and coded messages. This is an essential read for anyone with an interest in foreign policy, the misery of modern realpolitik and the tragedies of war itself. There's the blood of many nations in these pages.

More than one article I've read online has observed that the West's obsession with it, dates back to Britain's pre-eminent geostrategist of the late 19th century Halford Mckinder who called Afghanistan 'the hinge of the earth' and that whoever controlled the hinge, controlled the world. He also called that area the Heartland, or the pivot, and is considered the father of geostrategy and geopolitics.

As this books amply shows, early conquerors, monarchs, republics couldn't govern without the "world's second oldest profession". ( )
  antao | Oct 20, 2020 |
This book chronicles the rise of the jihadist movement, starting with mujahedin fighters in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. It continues with the rise of the Taliban and the influence and collaboration with bin Laden. The book ends on September 10, 2001. When reading this book you’ll find yourself continually asking why THEY didn’t listen to THOSE who were shouting warnings. ( )
  LamSon | Apr 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Coll has given us what is certainly the finest historical narrative so far on the origins of Al Qaeda in the post-Soviet rubble of Afghanistan. He has followed up that feat by threading together the complex roles played by diplomats and spies from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States into a coherent story explaining how Afghanistan became such a welcoming haven for Al Qaeda.
 
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Prologue:In the tattered, cargo-strewn cabin of an Ariana Afghan Airlines passenger jet streaking above Punjab toward Kabul sat a stocky, broad-faced American with short graying hair.
It was a small riot in a year of upheavals, a passing thunderclap disgorged by racing skies.
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To what extent did America's best intelligence analysts grasp the rising threat of Islamist radicalism? Who tried to stop bin Laden and why did they fail? Comprehensively and for the first time, this Pulitzer Prize-winning work by journalist Steve Coll recounts the history of the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and sowed the seeds of the September 11 attacks. Based on scrupulous research and firsthand accounts by key government, intelligence, and military personnel both foreign and American, Ghost Wars details the secret history of the CIA's role in Afghanistan, the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of bin Laden, and the efforts by US forces to find and assassinate bin Laden in Afghanistan.

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