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The Wars of Afghanistan    by Peter Tomsen order for
Wars of Afghanistan
by Peter Tomsen
Order:  USA  Can
PublicAffairs, 2011 (2011)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

With over 800, pages Peter Tomsen's The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers may not be for all readers, but anyone who is trying to understand the current situation in this beleaguered country and what led up to it will appreciate Tomsen's insights.

Peter Tomsen's credentials include being President George H.W. Bush's Special Envoy to the Afghan Resistance with the rank of Ambassador from 1989 to 1992. The career diplomat also served as United States Deputy Chief Mission in China from 1986 to 1989 and Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs from 1992 to 1995.

An acknowledged authority on Afghanistan, Tomsen offers an informed perspective on how Afghanistan's history as a 'shatter zone' for foreign invaders and its tribal society have shaped the modern Afghan narrative. He discusses how misinformed secret operations in the country by foreign intelligence Russian, American and Pakistani agencies did little but exacerbate an already precariously volatile political environment in the region.

In this volume, the author discusses his clashes with the CIA and the agency's attempt to suppress his influence in Washington as well as how he derailed planned CIA-ISI (Pakistani) military offenses by the Afghan extremists to capture power in Afghanistan and establish a radical Islamic state.

There's also an account of the propaganda attack against Tomsen by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Afghan radical and Pakistani media, and Soviet disinformation, such as a worldwide Soviet TASS news agency broadcast accusing him of organizing Mujahidin military attacks of Afghan cities.

In a lengthy account that covers a number of chapters, the former ambassador explains how he worked closely with Prince Turki al-Faisal, the head of Saudi intelligence. He documents their disagreements over Saudi support for the Mujahidin extremists and their radical Saudi allies. Tomsen warned that these Saudi fanatics would one day turn against the Saudi religious state, as they eventually did.

As the U.S. prepares to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, Tomsen argues that policy makers still do not comprehend the Afghan tribal environment or how American strategy has facilitated the ISI-supported Taliban resurgence.

As he wraps up this comprehensive look at the troubles in Afghanistan, the author also offers his own provocative proposals on how the U.S. and the coalition it leads must deal with Pakistani duplicity, assist Afghanistan and help the region return to stability and peace.

'The essence of this book is how history has shaped the current impasse. My hope is that the reader's journey through the wars of Afghanistan will inform the national debate on the way ahead,' writes Tomsen in the book's introduction. 'I believe that an enlightened path, over time, can yield the results we seek to bolster our national security; to redeem the sacrifices of Americans, allies, and Afghans; and to lift the horizons of a region deeply scarred by conflict.'

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