With all of this ridiculous over-coverage of Netanyahu’s speech today, the more important story of Iraqi Force pushing to control ISIS-Held Tikrit has been pushed to the back burner. I’m not sure how I happened upon it at this particular time, but it’s never too late to read Ghost Wars, the Pulitzer Prize winning history of US involvement in Afghanistan from the anti-Soviet uprising in the 1980s. Coll explains in a remarkably patient, non-partisan way, the ugly history of the US government in Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion in 1979. He gives the complete bird’s eye perspective of the geopolitics of the Taliban, al Qaeda, Afghan communists, Massoud’s Northern Alliance, Saudi royals, Iranians, the CIA, the Defense Department, the State Department, Soviets, and countless mujahedin warlords.
The original sin of America’s involvement in Afghanistan was our clandestine arming of the mujahedeen and then our abandonment of the country after the Soviet retreat. To compound the problems, we watched as Pakistan openly dragged its feet challenging the Taliban concentrating instead on its nuclear treat to fight its equally nuclear-armed neighbor, India.
American diplomats spent years pressing Islamic allies to force the Taliban to give up bin Laden. President Clinton spent hundreds of hours poring over satellite images and intelligence reports trying to pin him down before he attacked us. He failed and thousands of Americans died in 9/11 and the two wars that followed, but Ghost Wars proves that U.S. military leaders saw 9/11 coming years before it happened and chose actions that made us had a zero percentage of stopping it. I would hate, hate, hate to see us make the same mistake twice!