Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground

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Counterpoint, Oct 16, 2012 - History - 256 pages
“This excellent book is a painfully honest account of successive unwinnable wars. It is the text book Mr. Obama and others will need if Afghanistan is ever to be left to find its own peace and prosperity.” —Jon Snow, Channel 4 News (UK)

Jonathan Steele, an award-winning journalist and commentator, has covered the country since his first visit there as a reporter in 1981. He tracked the Soviet occupation and the communist regime of Najibullah, which held the Western-backed resistance at bay for three years after the Soviets left. He covered the arrival of the Taliban to power in Kabul in 1996, and their retreat from Kandahar under the weight of U.S. bombing in 2001. Most recently Steele has reported from the epicenter of the Taliban resurgence in Helmand.

Ghosts of Afghanistan turns a spotlight on the numerous myths about Afghanistan that have bedeviled foreign policy-makers and driven them to repeat earlier mistakes. Steele has conducted numerous interviews with ordinary Afghans, two of the country's Communist presidents, senior Soviet occupation officials, as well as Taliban leaders, Western diplomats, NATO advisers, and United Nations negotiators.

Comparing the challenges facing the Obama administration as it seeks to find an exit strategy with those the Kremlin faced in the 1980s, Steele cautions that military victory will elude the West just as it eluded the Kremlin. Showing how and why Soviet efforts to negotiate an end to the war came to nothing, he explains how negotiations today could put a stop to the tragedies of civil war and foreign intervention that have afflicted Afghanistan for three decades.

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Thirteen Myths About Afghanistan +
1 Where Are We Now? +
2 The Soviet Invasion +
3 The Gorbachev Effect +
4 Reconciliation Fails +
5 Mujahedin Disaster +
6 TalibanTakeover +
7 TalibanToppled +
9 Back to the Warlords +
10 Taliban Resurgent +
The Odd Couple +
HowtheWarEnds +
Chapter Six page 204
13 The Girl with the Missing Nose +
14 ADangerousNeighborhood +
Banning girls from school is a Taliban trademark Chapter Thirteen

8 WhoKilledAsaq? +

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About the author (2012)

Jonathan Steele is the former chief foreign correspondent for the Guardian. He has won numerous journalistic awards, and he has twice been named International Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. A regular broadcaster on the BBC and CNN, Steele has written several books on international affairs. He lives in London.

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