Sunday, August 7, 2016

Bhaveen Sheth-Book Review on Descent in Chaos

Dear Readers,

Henceforth I have made a promise to myself that every week I will finish reading one book and write a review on the same. 

Last week I finished reading the book "A descent into chaos" written by Mr.Ahmed Rashid, an eminent Pakistani Journalist. As a part of the three series that he has written, this is his second book. His first book was "Taliban" where he had narrated the events in Afghanistan post the withdrawal of the former Soviet Union, the collapse of law and order within Afghanistan, internecine wars amongst different Warlords trying to gain power and the rise of the Taliban.

In "Descent into chaos" he writes on the events post 9/11, invasion of Afghanistan by allied Western forces and hunt for Osama bin Laden. His accounts clearly reveal the catastrophic failure  of USA and UK in nation building. The neoconservative Bush administration had neither the insight nor the foresight about the entire situation. It seemed that the United States just wanted a quick exit from Afghanistan and had no interest in rebuilding it.

The author goes further in analyzing the support that the US government gave to different warlords in Afghanistan.This policy lead to lawlessness in the interiors of Afghanistan and loss of control of the central government in Kabul.Corruption within the interim and later the elected government was rampant wherein money donated by foreign aid agencies was pocketed by top level government officials.

The dubious role of Pakistan is exposed. General Parvez Musharraf played dual game within Afghanistan. The Pakistani army supported the US during the initial days of the invasion and later helped the fleeing members of the Taliban by giving them sanctuary in Waziristan and other tribal areas near the Afghan border.It also gave safe passage to the Arab fighters of Al-Qaeda. It goes without doubt that the senior leadership of Taliban and Al-Qaeda were protected by their masters in the ISI and the Pakistani Army. Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden were given a safe passage and made to disappear within Pakistan.

It is years later that Pakistan would bear the brunt of these monsters whom their governments supported.The Taliban would rise again and start bombings and killings within Pakistan. Three years after the American invasion the Taliban gets armed and starts a brutal insurgency against the Western forces in Afghanistan.

One chapter in this book focuses exclusively on the drug trade that grew in dynamic proportions after the US invasion.Opium become the unofficial product to be exported from Afghanistan and Western countries could not do anything to stop it.

General Parvez Musharraf has been depicted as an inefficient leader whose decisions lead to internecine sectarian violence within Pakistan and this legacy continues till date.

The failure within Afghanistan was collective and all countries involved in this conflict are to be blamed for it. The US did not make any concerted effort in rebuilding a war ravaged country. Peacekeeping was outsourced to International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), a division of  NATO. Within just one year after the invasion , the US government started preparing for another invasion in Iraq that lead to a cut down of resources that were required to stabilize Afghanistan.

This book is highly recommended to all HR professionals,Historians and anyone who has an interest in this region.One gets an insight into nation and organisation collapse due to poor decisions.

Ahmed Rashid's writing keeps the reader engrossed. His unbiased approach towards the entire Geo-political situation makes this book and interesting read.

This is Bhaveen Sheth signing out for the day and promise to be back with a lot more.