Unless you are living under a rock (if so, I can hardly blame you), you are probably aware that the US and allies have been fighting a war in Afghanistan. October will mark the 10 year anniversary. CLP Main’s shelves are well stocked with books for any reader looking to expand their knowledge of the ongoing conflict past the nightly soundbites and short articles that are a now familiar part of daily life. I’ve read a good share myself but I have always felt a bit at sea when trying to grapple with some of the larger issues. I am not referring to the big debates, “good war” versus “bad war,” hegemony, imperialism, or the War on Terror and its implications. Whichever side of the fence you are on, there exists scores of books to either buttress or challenge your dearly held beliefs. I am talking about some fundamental questions about the war itself that have always bothered me. What is the big plan? What is the goal? What does victory look like, and what is the plan to see it through?
Naturally, I found a lot of answers on the shelf at CLP. Hot off the press and waiting for you on the New Books shelf is Afghanistan: How the West Lost Its Way. The book is written by two English professors, Tim Bird and Alex Marshal. Both lecturers have long ties to the UK’s security establishment. Straight from the horses’ mouths comes a long, detailed outline of “the big plan” and its numerous changes and ultimate shortcomings. Anybody looking to understand what the US and allies have been trying to accomplish this last difficult decade needs to read this book. Currently I am searching for more titles along these lines. After all, you can’t read just one source or outlook on such an important topic.