Quote of the Day

by Joshua Foust on 1/21/2008 · 3 comments

After the end of the Cold War, Washington’s policy to the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran-Central Asia region was stymied by the lack of a strategic framework. The USA dealt with issues as they came up, in a haphazard, piecemeal fashion, rather than applying a coherent, strategic vision to the region…

US policy has been too preoccupied with wrong assumptions. When I first spoke to diplomats at the US Embassy in Islamabad after the Taliban emerged in 1994, they were enthusiastic. The Taliban had told the stream of US diplomats who visited Kandahar that they disliked Iran, that they would curb poppy and heroin production, that they were opposed to all outsiders remaining in Afghanistan… Some US diplomats saw them as messianic do-gooders—like born again Christians from the American Bible Belt. US diplomats believed the Taliban would meet essential US aims in Afghanistan—’eliminating drugs and thugs,’ as one diplomat said…

Some US diplomats, concerned with the lack of direction in Washingon on Afghanistan, have admitted that there was no coherent US policy, except to go along with what Pakistan and Saudi Arabia wanted.

—Ahmed Rashid, in his mostly-excellent Taliban, written sometime in 2000—that is to say before 9/11. It is only a small part of a frustrated rant in Chapter 13 (“Romancing the Taliban 2: 1997-1999”) about how the U.S. has pretty much no idea what it wants, what is should want, or what it’s doing, in the entire region.

The more things change

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Michael Hancock January 21, 2008 at 4:09 pm

I like Ahmed Rashid’s writing, all except for anytime he has anything to say about the Uzbeks. His knee-jerk racism is visceral and belies a family or cultural history of hatred… which is such a shame from such an otherwise intelligent and educated person.

Joshua Foust January 22, 2008 at 6:32 pm

Michael –

I agree fully, his racism is deeply distracting and almost ruins what I would consider an otherwise sterling history of the Taliban. I’ll address that in my review, once I’m not sick and head-swimmy from cold meds.

Patriot January 26, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Rashid exposed the Bill Clinton administration for what it was.
Inempt and ridiculous.
Shallow beyond comprehension, it took Hollyweird, of all peoples, to point out to the Clintons that their coziness with the Taliboys was bad ju ju.

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