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HOW WE MISSED THE STORY: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, and the Hijacking of Afghanistan

By Rotkoff, Steven W. | Military Review, July/August 2008 | Go to article overview

HOW WE MISSED THE STORY: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, and the Hijacking of Afghanistan


Rotkoff, Steven W., Military Review


HOW WE MISSED THE STORY: Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and the Hijacking of Afghanistan, Roy Gutman, United States Institute of Peace, 2008, 304 pages, $26.00.

The story of Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion in 1979 through the rise of the Taliban and their post 9/11 removal from power is an exciting tale that includes shifting clan loyalties, historic ethnic enmity, largerthan-life personalities, and good old-fashioned, bare-knuckle politics. Roy Gutman's How We Missed the Story is a comprehensive account of each of these elements. Gutman specifically asks the question, why did the U.S. miss Osama bin-Laden's hijacking of the Afghanistan government and acquisition of the freedom of action to plan and conduct terrorist attacks?

The book is well organized with good footnotes and a chronology of events that helps the reader follow the myriad shifting alliances and countervailing war crimes. The author's first-hand interviews and good documentation lend authenticity to the account and provide insight into the perspective of key players both internal and external to Afghanistan.

Where the book falls short is in its failure to remember the world as it was. Gutman specifically states that the attack on 9/11 was not an intelligence or military failure. Rather, it was a strategic policy failure. Gutman holds the National Command Authority, the State Department, and the CIA responsible for failing to recognize that Osama bin-Laden had hijacked Afghanistan, that Bin-Laden's declaration of war against the U.

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