Saturday, December 11, 2004

Ghost Wars

This is posted from a dusty Hindi heartland district headquarters on the Grand Trunk Road. Such mofussil towns are India's reality that strain our great power aspirations.

Anyways, we have just completed reading Steve Coll's terific book called
Ghost Wars . He is Managing Editor of Washington Post and a past South Asia correspondent -- so his views on the Afghan matters are highly credible.

He writes here of CIA's secret wars through the 80s and 90s all the way upto September 10, 2001. The players in the story are shown struggling with complex and even, nuanced, politico-legal realities as they wage war on a Saudi renegade in South Asia -- what was long to America, a dusty backwater of world politics.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia come out terribly. India has a marginal role here but Mr. Coll laments why a democratic India with similar concerns about Al Qaeda was sidelined in the favor of a widely distrusted Pakistan. The reason is the same why Ahmed Shah Massod was basically ignored in Washington -- except by some in CIA's Operational Directorate. Cold War ties and suspicions have long shadows that shape America policymaker perceptions to this day.

If only this wasn't the case.

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