Scott Horton, Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, The Libertarian Institute, 318 pages.
I was one of the first American officials to arrive in Kabul at the end of 2001. The war that seemed to be ending back then is currently in its 16th year with no end in sight, and for those of us who were there at the beginning it now sometimes seems like it was a lifetime ago. President Barack Obama not so long ago referred to Afghanistan as the "necessary war." But now it might be more appropriate to refer to it as a "forgotten war," as President Donald Trump has sent a few thousand more soldiers to Kabul—while also stating emphatically that he will not be discussing strategy or entertaining any questions regarding what might be coming next.
Scott Horton's new book, Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, is a masterful account of America's prolonged Afghan engagement. It reminds us that what began in 2001 was only the most recent phase of a decades-long struggle that began in 1979 when the Russians invaded Afghanistan, and Washington responded by arming and funding the mujahideen guerrillas, who effectively pushed back against Soviet control of their country but later morphed into al-Qaeda. Like the CIA's ill-fated replacement of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, the meddling in Afghanistan has borne bitter fruit, a prime example of what has been referred to as "blowback."