The Wrong War

The Wrong War

Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
America cannot afford to lose the war in Afghanistan, and yet Americans cannot win it. In this definitive account of the conflict, acclaimed war correspondent and bestselling author Bing West provides a practical way out. Drawing on his expertise as both a combat-hardened Marine and a former assistant secretary of defense, West has written a tour de force narrative that shows the consequences when strategic theory meets tactical reality. 

Having embedded with dozens of frontline units over the past two years, he takes the reader on a battlefield journey from the mountains in the north to the opium fields in the south. West--dubbed "the grunt's Homer"--shows why the Taliban fear the ferocity of our soldiers. Each chapter, rich with vivid characters and gritty combat, illustrates a key component of dogged campaigns that go on for years.

These never-ending battles show why idealistic theories about counterinsurgency have bogged us down for a decade. The official rhetoric denies reality. Instead of turning the population against the Taliban, our lavish aid has created a culture of entitlement and selfishness. Our senior commanders are risk-averse, while our troops know the enemy respects only the brave.

A fighter who understands strategy, West builds the case for changing course. As long as we do most of the fighting, the Afghans will hold back. Yet the Afghan military will crumble without our combat troops. His conclusion is sure to provoke debate: remove most of the troops from Afghanistan, stop spending billions on the dream of a modern democracy, transition to a tough adviser corps, and insist the Afghans fight their own battles. Amid debate about this maddening war, Bing West's book is a page-turner about brave men and cunning enemies that examines our realistic choices as a nation.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400068739
Branch Call Number: 958.1047 WEST
Characteristics: xxii, 307 p. : col. ill., maps ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

LRS1969 Mar 04, 2015

West, who should know better, having served in a War where conventional military approaches did NOT result in victory. And having been in position to see the difference of a true counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan Phase One (winning) in 2001-2002 versus an Afghanistan Phase Two conventional military approach to counterinsurgency (losing) from 2008-2011 (and thru to today) - with all the gains of Phase One were lost... because we scampered off to invade Iraq in the war, totally unjust - unlike Afghanistan which did fit international Just War definitions, but was THE war that Bush - Cheney - Rumsfeld wanted, in very early 2003!

As to Petraeus....

Like so many others, this author has a Petraeus idolization fixation (similar to the mythology of great generalship this sprung up relating to CSA General Robert E. Lee)... in this case, as many others by fine people, brought on by the Petraeus PR squad and the ultra conservative Petraeus fan club brayings.

Yet Petraeus, while personally intelligent, in fact was not militarily brilliant nor particularly savvy (repeating a myth often enough does NOT make it Truth)... though he indeed was one of the Perfumed Princes who believes absolutely in the Three Ps: Power, Perks, and Privileges!

EVERYTHING that Petraeus did in his military and post military life has had one and only one agenda - to do what is right for Petraeus and his personal benefit. Entitlement is an expectation of his (which he got even in "the end"... a deal that converts multiple severe felonies demanding decades of imprisonment down to one misdemeanor that carries no jail time and allows him to maintain his oligarchic and highly wealthy post treasonous career!).

So much for his oft repeated claims of innocence. And this is the deal if the century. He should have been prosecuted for every count and once convicted, sentenced to life without parole in Leavenworth!

"Petraeus Takes Plea Deal"

BTW, if you read West's Vietnam War memoir, "The Village" you will find that - very interestingly - West served in a USMC "CAP Platoon" (CAP being "CIVIC ACTION PROGRAM) where Marine Rifle Platoons were assigned to Vietnamese hamlets and villages in I Corps where they trained, patrolled with and fought alongside local village militias in what was one of the most successful counterinsurgency programs in the Vietnam War (along with the EARLY efforts of the Special Forces, Green Berets, in their CIDG program developing armed and fortified camps near villages of Vietnam's indigenous peoples)... in both cases the program "winning the hearts and minds" of that area's population (and expanding outwards like "inhibits"). The Marine CAP Program (which utilized only a small fraction of the in-country Marine presence) was shut down by Westmoreland and higher level conventional army military commanders while the Special Forces CIDG program was subverted into a conventional military role. And yet here is (an obviously now more conservative and conventionally militant West strongly downplaying the very (and strongly legitimate) true counterinsurgency programs that potentially could have by far the better chance of salvaging victory.

May 20, 2012

Solid and compelling first-hand reporting after being embedded in different parts of Afghanistan, with good insights into counter- insurgency strategies and how they have changed over time. The insights may not be new, but the stories of first hand accounts certainly give meat to the commentary on military strategy (or lack thereof) in Afghanistan.

Apr 09, 2011

Great reporting. Mr. West spent a long time with combat troops in two very different parts of Afghanistan and saw for himself why past and current strategies to eliminate the Taliban have failed. He gives a soldiers perspective as a retired Marine and can compare ongoing operations with his own experiences as an observer in Iraq and as Marine in Vietnam. Hightly recommended.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings

No similar edition of this title was found at Arapahoe Libraries.

Try searching for The Wrong War to see if Arapahoe Libraries owns related versions of the work.

Suggest for Purchase

To Top