In October 2001, the Bush administration sent Amb. James F. Dobbins, who had overseen nation-building efforts in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, to war-torn Afghanistan to help the Afghans assemble a successor government to the Taliban. From warlords to exiled royalty, from turbaned tribal chieftains to elegant émigré intellectuals, Ambassador Dobbins introduces a range of colorful Afghan figures competing for dominance in the new Afghanistan. His firsthand account of the post–9/11 American diplomacy also reveals how collaboration within Bush’s war cabinet began to break down almost as soon major combat in Afghanistan ceased. His insider’s memoir recounts how the administration reluctantly adjusted to its new role as nation-builder, refused to allow American soldiers to conduct peacekeeping operations, opposed dispatching international troops, and shortchanged Afghan reconstruction as its attention shifted to Iraq. />In After the Taliban , Dobbins probes the relationship between the Afghan and Iraqi ventures. He demonstrates how each damaged the other, with deceptively easy success in Afghanistan breeding overconfidence and then the latter draining essential resources away from the initial effort. Written by America’s most experienced diplomatic troubleshooter, this important new book is for readers looking for insights into how government really works, how diplomacy is actually conducted, and most important why the United States has failed to stabilize either Afghanistan or Iraq.
Amb. James F. Dobbins has held various State Department and White House posts, including assistant secretary of state for Europe, special assistant to the president for the Western Hemisphere, special adviser to the president and secretary of state for the Balkans, and ambassador to the European Community. He was the Clinton administration’s special envoy for Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo and the Bush administration’s first special envoy for Afghanistan. Lead author of The RAND History of Nation-Building and The Beginner’s Guide to Nation-Building, Ambassador Dobbins lives in Washington, D.C., where he currently directs RAND’s International Security and Defense Policy Center.
“James Dobbins has written a wise, interesting, and balanced account of the diplomacy surrounding the foundation of the first Afghan government after the fall of the Taliban. Dobbins"s book is part memoir and part an explication of how American diplomacy really works. After the Taliban is the first account from the inside about one of the real triumphs of American diplomacy after the Cold War: the creation of the conditions that allowed the Karzai government to emerge. As Dobbins relates, a good deal of the credit for this goes to the Iranians, and a good deal of the problems that have emerged since in Afghanistan are the result of the U.S. underfunding Afghan reconstruction and not committing enough boots on the ground for stability operations. It is a fascinating account of U.S. policymaking at its best and its worst.”
-- Peter Bergen, author of The Osama bin Laden I Know and Holy War, Inc.