Review: To Helmand and back

An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict Mike Martin, Hurst, £21.25 The Taliban Revival: Violence and Extremism on Pakistan-Afghanistan Frontier Hassan Abbas, Yale University Press, £17.09 & £10.19 e-book The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan 2001-2014 Carlotta Gall, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, £16.04 & £10.19 e-book

The World Today Updated 4 March 2021 Published 1 August 2014 3 minute READ

Robert Fox

Defence Editor, Evening Standard

‘Tell me how this all ends?’ asked David Petraeus, looking from a helicopter as it flew over Mosul in 2003. The question seems even more urgent today, not only for Iraq but for his other theatre of command, Afghanistan.

The chaotic outcome of the Afghan presidential elections – with the stand-off between the two leading contenders, the Pashtun Ashraf Ghani and the part-Tajik Abdullah Abdullah – threatens more mayhem to come.

The uncertainty is compounded by the fact that the presidential elections coincide with elections for a new assembly and the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force. This is not just bad luck or bad timing; it is sheer bad planning by both the Afghan authorities and their international sponsors.

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