The Not-So-Great Game
A quartet of books catalogs the lessons the US ignored in the Afghan war
A Long Goodbye:
The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan
by Artemy M. Kalinovsky
$27.95 List Price
“YOU MUST WARN YOUR PEOPLE.” The Somali had said it twice. As we spoke, his hand chased gnats, and sweat gathered on his wan face.
In a former life, Fekare had served his homeland as an army officer. He knew warlords, and the ills they wrought. Having survived the worst of Mogadishu, he had chosen an unlikely exile: a second assignment with the United Nations. We sat in the courtyard of his house in Kandahar on a blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996. It was just past the midpoint, we now know, between the Soviet exit from Afghanistan and the American entrance. He had quickly abandoned formalities—a recitation of wheat statistics and shifts in the population of the internally displaced—in favor of whispered warnings. “They will not stop,” he said of the brutal Islamist leaders of the Taliban.
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