In its earliest days, the American-led war in Afghanistan appeared to be a triumph - a ‘good war’ in comparison to the debacle in Iraq. It has since turned into one of the longest and most expensive wars in recent history. The story of how this good war went so bad may well turn out to be a defining tragedy of the twenty-first century - yet, as acclaimed war correspondent Jack Fairweather explains, it should also give us reason to hope for an outcome grounded in Afghan reality.
In The Good War, Fairweather provides the first full narrative history of the war in Afghanistan, from the 2001 invasion to the 2014 withdrawal. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, previously unpublished archives, and months of experience living and reporting in Afghanistan, Fairweather traces the course of the conflict from its inception after 9/11 to the drawdown in 2014. In the process, he explores the righteous intentions and astounding hubris that caused the West’s strategy in Afghanistan to flounder, refuting the long-held notion that the war could have been won with more troops and cash. Fairweather argues that only by accepting the limitations in Afghanistan - from the presence of the Taliban to the ubiquity of poppy production to the country’s inherent unsuitability for rapid, Western-style development - can we help to restore peace in this shattered land.
A timely lesson in the perils of nation-building and a sobering reminder of the limits of military power, The Good War leads readers from the White House Situation Room to Afghan military outposts, from warlords’ palaces to insurgents’ dens, to explain how the US and its British allies might have salvaged the Afghan campaign - and how we must rethink other ‘good’ wars in the future.