The estimable Bing West is the author of The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan, just published by Random House. Andrew Exum, a former Ranger officer with combat experience in Afghanistan, reviewed it for the Wall Street Journal’s Saturday Review section the weekend before last. Yesterday’s New York Times Book Review featured the review by former Times combat correspondent (now New Yorker staff writer) Dexter Filkins on page one.
So what’s wrong? Why hasn’t the new faith in Afghanistan delivered the success it promises? In his remarkable book, “The Wrong War,” Bing West goes a long way to answering that question. “The Wrong War” amounts to a crushing and seemingly irrefutable critique of the American plan in Afghanistan. It should be read by anyone who wants to understand why the war there is so hard.
Filkins notes in passing:
At age 70, West, the author of several books on America’s wars, went to Afghanistan and into the bases and out on patrols with the grunts, waded through the canals, ran through firefights and humped up the mountains. (At one point he contracted cholera and was evacuated by helicopter.) Embedding with American troops in God-forsaken places like Kunar and Helmand Provinces is hard business. What drives this man? West is worth a book in himself.
Both Exum and Filkins are knowledgeable observers, and both their reviews of this important book are worth reading in themselves.