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Review of Sharifullah Dorani's book

Sharifullah Dorani has written a book titled ‘America in Afghanistan: Foreign Policy and Decision Making From Bush to Obama to Trump’. The book gives a fascinating overview on events in Afghanistan and the 'thinking' behind the decisions made by successive US administrations. A review of the book written by David Dwyer at BRASS is below.

Sharifullah Dorani

‘America in Afghanistan: Foreign Policy and Decision Making From Bush to Obama to Trump’

Published 24 January 2019 by IB Tauris and Bloomsbury.

Sharifullah Dorani takes us from when George W Bush declared the Global War on Terrorism following the 9/11 attacks through to Trump’s presidency – from 2001 up until 2018, 17 years of war in Afghanistan which has not stabilised the country or effectively dealt with global terrorism. Dorani skilfully describes the key players and their views in the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan over this period, also drawing upon his personal experiences and interviews in Afghanistan. Dorani helps us understand the Afghan background, the key figures, syndicates, warlords and tribes that were at peace under 40-year era of King Zahir Shah. His insights into the Afghan culture through his personal experiences, research and interviews lead one to think he would have been a great asset advising any one of the three US presidents – if they would have listened. President Bush, within hours of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, declared America was at war without discussions with his advisers and experts. It was a decision based on his ‘gut feeling’, maybe he wanted to show how decisive and tough he could be without talking to the experts. Bush did not understand Pakistan role; situated at the crossroad of a strategic region bordering Afghanistan, China, India and Iran; all important to the US in different ways - had a (Muslim) population six times greater than Afghanistan, possessed nuclear weapons, and was politically unstable. Furthermore, most of the Al Qaeda operatives and almost all Taliban top members, the hardcore and the irreconcilable, had their camps in Pakistan. Yet the US continued to give aid to Pakistan, US dollars were funding the terrorists that killed the US soldiers and their allies. Reading this excellent book makes one compare and contrast current events with the three US Presidents' approaches to Afghanistan. Should they listen to experts and try to understand the history and context behind an issue OR follow their emotions? There are some important issues raised in this book about those who govern us and the trust we place in them.

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