Descent Into Chaos

Ahmed Rashid

Descent Into Chaos

Since 9/11, the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, the West has been fighting a 'War on Terror', through force and through the building of new societies in the region. In this clear and devastating account, with unparalleled access and intimate knowledge of the political players, "Descent into Chaos" chronicles our failure. Having reported from central Asia for a quarter of a century, Ahmed Rashid shows clearly why the war in Iraq is just a sideshow to the main event. Rather, it is Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the five Central Asian states that make up the crisis zone, for it is here that terrorism and Islamic extremism are growing stronger. Documenting with precision how intimately linked Pakistan is with the Taliban and other extremist movements, while remaining the US' main ally in the region, Rashid brings into focus the role of many regional issues in supporting extremism, from nuclear programmes to local rivalries, ineffectual peace-keeping to tyrannical rulers. For Rashid, at the heart of the failure in Iraq is the US' refusal to accept the need to build nations. 4.1 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Descent Into Chaos

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy
Format Hardback
Pages 544
RRP £25.00
Date of Publication July 2008
ISBN 978-0713998436
Publisher Allen Lane
 

Since 9/11, the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, the West has been fighting a 'War on Terror', through force and through the building of new societies in the region. In this clear and devastating account, with unparalleled access and intimate knowledge of the political players, "Descent into Chaos" chronicles our failure. Having reported from central Asia for a quarter of a century, Ahmed Rashid shows clearly why the war in Iraq is just a sideshow to the main event. Rather, it is Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the five Central Asian states that make up the crisis zone, for it is here that terrorism and Islamic extremism are growing stronger. Documenting with precision how intimately linked Pakistan is with the Taliban and other extremist movements, while remaining the US' main ally in the region, Rashid brings into focus the role of many regional issues in supporting extremism, from nuclear programmes to local rivalries, ineffectual peace-keeping to tyrannical rulers. For Rashid, at the heart of the failure in Iraq is the US' refusal to accept the need to build nations.

Reviews

The Daily Telegraph

Sameer Rahim

Despite his criticisms, Rashid still has faith in interventionism. However, it is perhaps unrealistic to think that the US and Britain can combine nation building with hunting terrorists. One of the lessons of this outstanding and depressing book is that countries seem incapable of long-term planning.

19/07/2008

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The Financial Times

Quentin Peel

This book is not a hysterical tract that sees Islamist extremists under every rock and tree... It is a sober, serious and well-documented account of the deliberate cultivation of a fanatical ideology to bolster unpopular military rule in Pakistan, and of how it has got out of control. It is also a very sad story of how the early hopes of an enlightened and independent Afghanistan have been shattered by Washington’s disinterest and obsession with Iraq, and its tolerance of the double-dealing of the ISI in Islamabad.

24/04/2009

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The Observer

Jason Burke

Rashid is excellent on Afghanistan and Pakistan. As with his previous books, he digs out those nuggets of information that illuminate and explain. But he is less convincing on the United States. Even in Washington, it is hard to fathom US politics; from Lahore, the eastern Pakistani city where Rashid is based, it is well-nigh impossible.

24/04/2009

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The Sunday Times

Max Hastings

Rashid is no foaming leftist, still less an enthusiast for Islamic militance. He merely tells a story from the viewpoint of a highly informed Pakistani who knows intimately almost all the leading players, including Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, many of the Afghan warlords, and, of course, key figures in his own country. The severest criticism that can be made of his tale is that we know some of it already.

22/06/2008

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The Independent

Kim Sengupta

When it comes to Rashid's interpretation of Washington's guiding strategy, one must take issue. His assertion that "naming the adversary as 'terrorism' enabled the neocons to broaden the specific struggle against al-Qaeda into a global conflict with Islam" does not really stand up to scrutiny. The neocons driving foreign policy in the Bush White House had some outlandish ideas, but to say that there was a grand plan for a crusade against Islam is simply wrong... Rashid is better on things closer to home.

11/07/2008

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