March 26, 2004

9/11 Panel Background

I've been reading Steve Coll's Ghost Wars, The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.

Anyone interested in a deep look at how we arrived at the current situation in Central Asia should read this book. Coll follows our policies from supporting the Afghans & jihad fighters against the Soviets in the 1980's to our complete withdrawal (the source of our problems, I believe) after the Soviets left (leaving Afghanistan to the Pakistanis/Saudis and others) through the 1990's where a few tried to get those at the top engaged once again in the region as the Taliban rose to power (backed by Bin Laden and others) and finally, to 09/10/2001.

There's been no shortage of discussion recently on this topic, including the recent charges/counter charges around Richard Clarke. Clarke's White House role during the 1990's is discussed extensively in this book. I believe Coll's work provides a useful basis to get through the politics and discover that in reality, there was little leadership or will power to address these problems, until 9/11 (despite the Cole bombing, the African bombings and other telltale signs of what was to come).

The genesis of the problem is that we abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviets left (leaving it wide open for regional players), and did not re-engage in a serious way until post 9/11.

Fascinating read.

he Washington Post In Ghost Wars, The Washington Post's managing editor, Steve Coll, takes a long -- and long overdue -- look at the peaks and valleys of the CIA's presence in Afghanistan throughout the decades leading to Sept. 10, 2001. It is a well-written, authoritative, high-altitude drama with a cast of few heroes, many villains, bags of cash and a tragic ending -- one that may not have been inevitable. James Bamford
Posted by James Zellmer at March 26, 2004 7:35 AM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Books | Politics