November 5, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan

Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan

Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0307947041

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Book
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of the Year
The author of the acclaimed bestseller and National Book Award finalist, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, tells the startling, behind-the-scenes story of the US’s political and military misadventure in Afghanistan. In this meticulously reported and illuminating book, Rajiv Chandrasekaran focuses on southern Afghanistan in the year of President Obama’s surge, and reveals the epic tug of war that occurred between the president and a military that increasingly went its own way. The profound ramifications this political battle had on the region and the world are laid bare through a cast of fascinating characters—disillusioned and inept diplomats, frustrated soldiers, headstrong officers—who played a part in the process of pumping American money and soldiers into Afghan nation-building. What emerges in Little America is a detailed picture of unsavory compromise—warlords who were to be marginalized suddenly embraced, the Karzai family transformed from foe to friend, fighting corruption no longer a top priority—and a venture that became politically, financially, and strategically unsustainable.

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form of a Marine holding a red light stick. He escorted Nicholson’s party into what appeared to be a bombed-out two-story brick building with no roof or windows. The only furniture, save for a few cots, were four-foot-long Javelin missile cases that had been converted into benches. Flashlights were verboten at night—white light could draw enemy fire—so everyone felt his way around. The resident Marines knew exactly how many steps to take before hitting a wall; the newcomers nearly toppled off a

villages? The United States was spending more each year to keep Marine battalions in Nawa and Garmser than it was providing the entire nation of Egypt in military and development assistance. When I shared that math with one of Obama’s senior advisers, he nodded. “It’s totally out of whack,” he said. The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of Navy SEALs in Pakistan a month earlier had also transformed the debate. Al-Qaeda looked to be on the ropes. The odds were slim that the terrorist group

Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, officers there grew concerned about Tunnell’s aggressive approach, but more senior Army commanders did not force him to abandon it. And selecting another brigade for the Kandahar mission was out of the question—the Army’s force generation command was emphatic: No other units were available for an Afghanistan rotation. The counterguerrilla orientation influenced preparations. Tunnell boasted that his soldiers expended more ammunition during training than

Tunnell’s brigade arrived in August 2009, Arghandab was playing the same role for the Taliban as it had for the mujahideen in the 1980s—it was a land of bunkers, weapons caches, and bomb-making factories. After the Talibs blew up a wall of Kandahar’s main prison and freed more than a thousand inmates in 2008, many escapees sought refuge in Arghandab, where they rejoined the insurgency. Top Canadian officers told Tunnell’s staff that no more than thirty to forty insurgents were in the district.

and a contribution from his brother, whose wallet was bulging after serving as a foreman on a series of USAID-funded day-labor projects. Those projects had provided the seed capital for most of the new businesses and the money for residents to go shopping. “Nawa has ice cream because of cash-for-work,” he proclaimed. The success in Nawa was being driven by AVIPA, the agricultural voucher program whose one-year budget had been doubled to $300 million by Richard Holbrooke. It was carpet bombing

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