How We Missed the Story: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, and the Hijacking of Afghanistan

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US Institute of Peace Press, 2008 - Political Science - 321 pages
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Focusing principally on events and policy missteps in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s, award-winning journalist Roy Gutman weaves a narrative that exposes how and why the U.S. government, the United Nations, and the Western media missed the story in the leadup to 9/11. He advances this narrative carefully and persuasively and approaches his subject with an objective, journalistic eye, drawing heavily on his own original research and extensive interviews with key players both in the United States and abroad. Arguing that the U.S. government made a strategic mistake by categorizing bin Laden s murderous assaults prior to 9/11 as terrorism, he ultimately concludes that the core failure was in the field of U.S. foreign policy.Sure to attract a wide audience, this first-rate, deeply engaging volume makes a highly original contribution to our understanding of the events and mistakes that ultimately led to 9/11 and offers much-needed insight so that such a story is not missed again.Events & InterviewsPress Kit"

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Gutman's perceptive analysis of the central asia policy prelude to 9/11 is on the mark. He posits a very interesting theory that not only is misreporting events possible but it is at least partly responsible for policy gaffs after 9/11. "'Obscure, faraway conflicts have given rise to the evils of this era'" (forward).
Sponsored by the US Institute of Peace, Gutman reports that the media and policy makers got the story wrong in Afghanistan prior to 9/11, exacerbating its impacts. His theory is that Bin Laden sought to gain power in post-Soviet Afgahnistan by strategically deploying ground forces "which enabled the Taliban to capture territory from the renowned anti-Soviet guerrilla leader Ahmed Shah Massoud" (xi). He focuses on a fundamental question: "Why were two successive US administrations unable to head off the assault?" (3). He concludes that the strategic failure lay not with intelligence services but with US foreign policy formulation, the domain of the president himself (3). Clinton and Bush II saw Bin Laden as a military rather than as a political threat to US national interests (4). Gutman sees this work as a post-mortem on the government wide response to the situation leading to 9/11 (5). He defines successful foreign policy as "the outcome of a conscious and deliberative process that requires a solid grasp of the reality on the ground" (5).
This is an informative and well-researched text which informs the reader.


The Death of Foreign Policy?
A Half Solution 19891992
With Massoud 19921994
A Very Exciting Development 19941996
An Endless Tragedy of Epic Proportions 1997
Silence Cannot Be the Strategy 1998
Hijacking a Regime 1999
Coasting toward Catastrophe 20002001
Human Rights under Massoud and the Taliban

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About the author (2008)

Victor Shaw is currently teaching sociology and criminology at California State University, Northridge.

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