Book Review — Directorate S : The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

“In the 15-year story that Directorate S tells, Afghanistan has been built a bit and bombed a lot, the Taliban have been fought with and then courted, the Pakistanis embraced then abandoned. What the British tried to document in Curzon’s day, the Americans refused to learn; there is indeed trouble on the Frontier again, and in Directorate S we have the definitive account of it.”

Rafia Zakaria — The Guardian

Resuming the narrative of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars, bestselling author Steve Coll tells for the first time the epic and enthralling story of America’s intelligence, military, and diplomatic efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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Prior to 9/11, the United States had been carrying out small-scale covert operations in Afghanistan, ostensibly in cooperation, although often in direct opposition, with I.S.I., the Pakistani intelligence agency.

While the US was trying to quell extremists, a highly secretive and compartmentalized wing of I.S.I., known as “Directorate S,” was covertly training, arming, and seeking to legitimize the Taliban, in order to enlarge Pakistan’s sphere of influence.

After 9/11, when fifty-nine countries, led by the U. S., deployed troops or provided aid to Afghanistan in an effort to flush out the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the U.S. was set on an invisible slow-motion collision course with Pakistan.

About Directorate S

“Today we know that the war in Afghanistan would falter badly because of military hubris at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the drain on resources and provocation in the Muslim world caused by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and corruption.

But more than anything, as Coll makes painfully clear, the war in Afghanistan was doomed because of the failure of the United States to apprehend the motivations and intentions of I.S.I.’s “Directorate S”.

This was a swirling and shadowy struggle of historic proportions, which endured over a decade and across both the Bush and Obama administrations, involving multiple secret intelligence agencies, a litany of incongruous strategies and tactics, and dozens of players, including some of the most prominent military and political figures.

A sprawling American tragedy, the war was an open clash of arms but also a covert melee of ideas, secrets, and subterranean violence.

Coll excavates this grand battle, which took place away from the gaze of the American public. With unsurpassed expertise, original research, and attention to detail, he brings to life a narrative at once vast and intricate, local and global, propulsive and painstaking.

This is the definitive explanation of how America came to be so badly ensnared in an elaborate, factional, and seemingly interminable conflict in South Asia.

Nothing less than a forensic examination of the personal and political forces that shape world history, Directorate S is a complete masterpiece of both investigative and narrative journalism.”

About the Author

Steve Coll is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars and the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, and from 2007 to 2013 was president of the New America Foundation, a public policy institute in Washington, D.C.

He is a staff writer for The New Yorker, and previously worked for twenty years at The Washington Post, where he received a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990.

He is the author of seven other books, including On the Grand Trunk RoadThe Bin LadensPrivate Empire, and Directorate S.

Steve Coll on the CIA & America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan & Pakistan

The U.S. is intensifying its air war in Afghanistan as U.S. Central Command has announced it is shifting military resources from Iraq and Syria back to Afghanistan, where the United States has been fighting for over 16 years in the longest war in U.S. history.

U.S. Air Force Major General James Hecker recently said Afghanistan has “become CENTCOM’s main effort.”

The news comes after a particularly bloody period in Afghanistan.

Despite the spiraling violence, President Trump recently ruled out negotiations with the Taliban during a meeting of members of the United Nations Security Council.

We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll about his new book, “Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

REFERENCES

Directorate S by Steve Coll Review – The Guardian

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Book Review — Directorate S : The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

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