x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 September 2017

A Vulcan's Tale: Lifting the lid on Afghanistan

Dov S Zakheim, a member of former US president George W Bush's "Vulcan" group of advisers, explains how the US made a dog's breakfast of the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

A Vulcan's Tale
Dov S Zakheim
Brookings Institution Press
Dh134
A Vulcan's Tale Dov S Zakheim Brookings Institution Press Dh134

It would take a tome of titanic proportions to try to explain (let alone justify) US foreign policy over the past decade.

However, Dov S Zakheim is at least making an attempt to interpret the dog's dinner the Bush administration made of the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and for that we should be grateful.

As a "Vulcan", a term coined by Condoleezza Rice, Zakheim was one of a group of eight who advised George W Bush on foreign and national security issues.

He lifts the lid on how crucial decisions at the departments of state and defence were reached, or in many cases, not reached, in a style that is pacey and accessible.

He says: "While all of these heavyweights vied for the president's ear, and, more important, for his decisions, few of them focused on the practicalities of executing those decisions, or even on the feasibility of doing so."

Moreover, Zakheim talks about a loss of focus in Afghanistan amid an unnecessary haste to invade in Iraq, the occupation of which "both the United States and Iraq have both paid a truly heavy price for."