America cannot afford to lose the war in Afghanistan, and yet Americans cannot win it. In this definitive account of the conflict, acclaimed war correspondent and bestselling author Bing West provides a practical way out. Drawing on his expertise as both a combat-hardened Marine and a former assistant secretary of defense, West has written a tour de force narrative that shows the consequences when strategic theory meets tactical reality.
Having embedded with dozens of frontline units over the past two years, he takes the reader on a battlefield journey from the mountains in the north to the opium fields in the south. West—dubbed “the grunt’s Homer”—shows why the Taliban fear the ferocity of our soldiers. Each chapter, rich with vivid characters and gritty combat, illustrates a key component of dogged campaigns that go on for years.
These never-ending battles show why idealistic theories about counterinsurgency have bogged us down for a decade. The official rhetoric denies reality. Instead of turning the population against the Taliban, our lavish aid has created a culture of entitlement and selfishness. Our senior commanders are risk-averse, while our troops know the enemy respects only the brave.
A fighter who understands strategy, West builds the case for changing course. As long as we do most of the fighting, the Afghans will hold back. Yet the Afghan military will crumble without our combat troops. His conclusion is sure to provoke debate: remove most of the troops from Afghanistan, stop spending billions on the dream of a modern democracy, transition to a tough adviser corps, and insist the Afghans fight their own battles. Amid debate about this maddening war, Bing West’s book is a page-turner about brave men and cunning enemies that examines our realistic choices as a nation.
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A Conversation with Bing West, Author of The Wrong War
Bing West, a Marine combat veteran, served as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. A contributor to National Review, he is the author of The Village, No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah, and The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq. The Village, a classic about counterinsurgency, has been on the Marine Corps Commandant’s Reading List for forty years. West’s books on Iraq have won the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award for nonfiction, the Colby Award for military nonfiction, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars News Media Award for journalism. His articles appear in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He and his wife, Betsy, live in Newport, Rhode Island.
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