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The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan by [Bing West]

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The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 115 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Advanced Praise for The Wrong War:

“Bing West is many things—a battle-wise veteran, a skeptical journalist, and above all a brilliant chronicler of America’s post-9/11 wars. His latest book provides a gripping account of the tactical realities in Afghanistan, but, no less important, it offers strategic counsel at a time when the Obama administration—and the country—needs it badly.”—Eliot Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
 
“If there is an answer for Afghanistan, it will come from only one place—the dirt. No correspondent has spent as much time on this ground as former Marine colonel Bing West, and no one has brought to it as much real-world, infantry-command experience. The Wrong War should be read (and studied) in the Pentagon and in the Oval Office. This is not think-tank theorizing, it’s the real shit from a career warrior and first-rate military thinker. The Wrong War is so fresh, you can practically scrape the dirt off its pages. Read this. Read the final chapter. If there is a path to success in Afghanistan (or at least not catastrophic failure), Col. West’s recommendations point the way.”—Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire
 
“A devastating critique of U.S. foreign policy regarding a seemingly endless war.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Bing West is on his way to becoming the Thucydides of the global War on Terror."—Washington Times
 
“So what’s wrong? Why hasn’t the new faith in Afghanistan delivered the success it promises? In his remarkable book, “The Wrong War,” Bing West goes a long way to answering that question. “The Wrong War” amounts to a crushing and seemingly irrefutable critique of the American plan ...

Amazon.com Review

A Conversation with Bing West, Author of The Wrong War

What is this book about? I bring the reader onto the toughest battlefields in order to show what the war really is – a series of short, sharp clashes between our soldiers and the Taliban. This is hard stuff, and our rules of engagement are too strict. It’s nonsense to say wars aren’t won by killing and bloodshed. That’s how the terrorists seized power, and they have to be destroyed. Our troops understand this; our leaders do not.

What is our goal in Afghanistan? Are we fighting to win? In 2009, President Obama said the goal was to “defeat the Taliban.” In 2011, he downgraded the goal to “preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people.” He no longer intends to win by defeating our enemy. Whether we settle for a tie by negotiations remains to be seen.

What does your title, The Wrong War, mean? Afghanistan was the wrong war for our strategy of benevolent counterinsurgency. Our strategy has been to give money and some protection to the Pashtun tribes in order to win over their hearts and minds. In return, the Pashtuns were expected to stand against the Taliban who were, in fact, their stronger relatives.

This strategy has failed. The Pashtuns have not rejected the Taliban. I bring the reader onto the battlefields in the mountains of the north and the poppy fields of the south to show why.

Do our troops care about politics, or do they fight for one another? They fight for one another. But -- they volunteered to be grunts before they ever met one another. They wanted the adventure - the chance to prove themselves in battle- and to serve their country.

But our generals have to set achievable goals. Otherwise grunts become cynical. Few of our grunts now believe we are winning hearts and minds, as our generals claim.

Does Pakistan control the outcome in Afghanistan? Pakistan provides a vast sanctuary, and refuses to arrest the top Taliban leaders. Pakistan lacks the resources and determination to move against the sanctuaries. Afghanistan can remain intact only by developing a strong army to fight along the Pak border.

What has been the main mistake in the war? We’re paying the bills, taking casualties and doing the fighting. Yet we ceded total sovereign control to an untrustworthy Karzai,. Our greatest mistake was not keeping some control over the finances and the promotions of the Afghan security forces.

Six US generals have failed in Afghanistan. Why? Either we had six incompetents, or we have to acknowledge that very, very few men speak truth to power. On the one hand, our military was too strong to lose. On the other hand, Afghanistan was so vast and so chaotic that our mission of nation-building required three times the number of troops we committed. Our generals knew this. Yet Presidents Bush and Obama did not know.

What is the book’s basic message? Our troops are trying to protect and provide projects to Pashtun tribes that are hurtling headlong into the 10th Century. Our strategy is kind and liberal, but it will take another ten years and one trillion dollars to nudge Afghanistan into a progressive, democratic, economically viable state.

We don’t have that time. Our vital interest is to prevent a takeover of Kabul by the Taliban radicals. We can prevent this by reducing our troop levels and placing the Afghan soldiers in the lead, with American advisers. That is why my book brings the readers into combat with both British and American adviser teams. We must change what we are doing.

--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B004EEP9AO
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House (February 22, 2011)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ February 22, 2011
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 15038 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 115 ratings

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Bing West's novel, The Last Platoon, is the story of duty in savage, unwinnable combat. West served in Marine infantry in Vietnam. A graduate of Georgetown and Princeton Universities, he has served as both Special Assistant to Secretary of Defense and as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security. Based on his own combat and dozens of embeds over the decades, he has written a dozen books about the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the co-author of General Jim Mattis's memoir, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, that is on the Commandant's Required Reading List. He has twice been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service medal, as well as numerous awards for his reporting on combat.

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
115 global ratings

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Top reviews from other countries

William Podmore
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful study of the war and how to end it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 16, 2016
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king
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, different view
Reviewed in Germany on September 30, 2013
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