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The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers by Peter Tomsen at Abbey's Bookshop,

The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers

Peter Tomsen


Public Affairs

Asian history;
History of the Americas;
21st century history: from c 2000 -;
Afghan War


704 pages

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As elder George H.W. Bush's Special Envoy and Ambassador to Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992, Peter Tomsen has arguably been as close as any foreigner to the Afghan leaders who have been involved in the last two decades of conflict in the region. Tomsen accompanied President Hamid Karzai when Karzai's motorcade was ambushed in Kandahar in 2002. He was one of the last foreigners to meet with the famed Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masood before Masood was dramatically assassinated by an al-Qaeda bomb days before 9/11. He now is a well-established commentator on Afghan affairs in the U.S. and international media.

In this book, Tomsen draws on a rich trove of never-before-published material - including declassified memos, telegrams, policy papers and his own diary notes - to shed new light on the American involvement in the long and continuing Afghan war. He also offers a deeply informed perspective on how Afghanistan's history as a "shatter zone" for foreign invaders and its tribal society has shaped the modern Afghan narrative. He chronicles the lessons learned, but always forgotten, by every great power who has disastrously invaded Afghanistan.

And he brings to life the appallingly misinformed, occasionally farcical secret operations by foreign intelligence agencies, including the Soviet NKVD and KGB, the Pakistani ISI, and the American CIA. American policy makers, Tomsen argues, still do not understand the Afghan tribal environment or how U.S. actions facilitated the ISI-supported Taliban comeback.

At this critical time, he presents proposals on how the U.S. and the coalition it leads can assist Afghanistan and the region back to stability and peace. It will answer the questions: Why is the United States failing in Afghanistan? Are we throwing away more troops and money at an intractable problem, just like we did in Vietnam? How can we succeed in Afghanistan?

At once an insider historical narrative and an indispensible policy primer, this book offers a unique view of American blunders in Afghanistan, showing how the CIA's ill-advised covert operations and the Pentagon's military strategy have strengthened extremism and chaos in the country.

By:   Peter Tomsen
Imprint:   Public Affairs
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 241mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 71mm
Weight:   1.247kg
ISBN:   9781586487638
ISBN 10:   1586487639
Pages:   704
Publication Date:   August 2011
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Peter Tomsen was President George H.W. Bush's Special Envoy on Afghanistan with the rank of AMbassador from 1989 to 1992. Tomsen entered the Foreign Service in 1967 and served in Thailand, Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union. He was United States Deputy Chief of Mission in China from 1986 to 1989, deputy Assistat Secretary for East Asian Affairs from 1992 to 1995, and the American Ambassador to Armenia from 1995 to 1998. He lives in Virginis with his wife.

Steve Coll, author of The Bin Ladens and Ghost Wars Peter Tomsen has a depth of understanding and knowledge about the history of Afghanistan that makes him a unique asset in our effort to grapple with the multiple conflicts and intricate politics in what has turned out to be America's longest war. Winston Lord, former Assistant Secretary of State Accolades like 'magisterial,' 'definitive,' and 'vital' should be reserved for rare books like Peter Tomsen's 'The Wars of Afghanistan.' Few Americans are as knowledgeable about that tormented land's past; none have been more savvy or prescient about its unrolling future. Tomsen's compelling narrative draws upon meticulous scholarship and virgin archives, personal frontline engagement and close ties with major players. This multilayered volume melds sweeping history, cultural painting, political analysis, governmental battles, dramatic action, and provocative prescriptions. 'The Wars of Afghanistan' is bound to have urgent impact and enduring resonance. Lee H. Hamilton, former congressman and co-chair of the 9/11 Commission The Wars of Afghanistan is a richly detailed account that places current U.S. interests in Afghanistan in the historical, political, and cultural context of this troubled land. Peter Tomsen's compelling analysis of Afghan leaders and tribal politics makes this book invaluable to the policy maker. His wise and carefully considered policy blueprint-basically, America will still help and America is withdrawing-serves American interests and uplifts Afghanistan. Chuck Hagel, distinguished professor, Georgetown University, and former U.S. senator (1997-2009) The authenticity of Tomsen's Afghanistan experiences, knowledge, and analysis is the foundation of a superbly well-written and documented presentation of an astoundingly complicated part of the world. He brings remarkable clarity to a very complex story. Tomsen's book is the most current, informed, and complete Afghanistan publication in the market today ... and maybe ever. It is not an exaggeration to say that he has created a masterpiece. It's that good. Publisher's Weekly, May 16, 2011 Ambassador and special envoy to Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992, Tomsen combines scholarship, analysis, and personal experience in an encyclopedic if disturbing history of post-WWII Afghanistan. Readers will appreciate his expert...insights. Foreign Affairs, September/October, 2011 Magisterial... A career U.S. diplomat, Tomsen served as Washington's special envoy to the Afghan resistance in 1989-92, an experience that gave him almost unrivaled personal insight into Afghanistan's slide from anti-Soviet jihad into civil war. His account of the country's political dynamics before, during, and after this period is exhaustively researched, levelheaded, and persuasive...The Wars of Afghanistan should have a place among the indispensable books on the topic. San Francisco Chronicle, July 3, 2011 Peter Tomsen, a former U.S. envoy to the Afghan resistance from 1989 to 1992, reminds us in his sweeping history that the CIA has had a miserable record of understanding the politics of the region. The Wars of Afghanistan is rich with details about his interactions with key players during this critical period. Following the Soviet withdrawal, the United States continued to oppose compromise with the last Afghan communist ruler, Mohammad Najibullah, and to arm the mujahedeen, including figures now fighting the Americans. Drawing on these lessons, Tomsen persuasively calls on Washington to wrest policymaking back from the Pentagon and spy agencies, and advocates U.N. mediation of an Afghan peace process. Times Literary Supplement September 30, 2011 [A]dmirably sound. Philadelphia Inquirer October 6, 2011 A fascinating tome. National Review Online, Best Nonfiction of 2011 Excellent...Tomsen knows the country, its culture, and the last 30 years of U.S. history there, inside and out. San Francisco Chronicle, Best Books of 2011 In his sweeping history, Tomsen persuasively calls on Washington to wrest policymaking back from the Pentagon and spy agencies, and advocates U.N. mediation of an Afghan peace process. American U.S. policy toward Afghanistan needs more careful calibration than the all-in/all-out policy schizophrenia of the last three decades. To be consistent and successful, our policy makers and practitioners in Afghanistan must be aware of the intense and often tragic history of our relations with that country. Ambassador Tomsen's book provides an admirable service toward that end. Kansas City Star Stewart's book is impressive in scope and painstakingly researched.

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