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Dan Caldwell Examines U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq in New Book
With the passing of the eighth anniversary of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, Dan Caldwell, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Pepperdine, aims to rectify the absence of a comprehensive reference work for a holistic view of the resulting wars in his latest book. While many books have been published on each of these wars, Vortex of Conflict: U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq (Stanford University Press) gives a clear, accurate account of their origins, especially how and why the U.S. became so involved in the affairs of Pakistan.
Caldwell begins by offering a clear history of the U.S. foreign policy pre-1979, examining the revolution in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the first Gulf War, the rise of Al Qaeda, the emergence of “the Bush Doctrine,” and other significant events. Within this context, he then outlines and analyzes the major issues of the two wars, including intelligence quality, military operations, U.S. relations with allies, the shift from a conventional to a counterinsurgency strategy, the military surges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and postwar reconstruction. Concluding the work is a summary of key lessons to be learned from the wars and their application to future conflicts.
Among the points that Caldwell makes are that virtually all experts—American and non-American—believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD); that by diverting vital resources from the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq dissipated the effort to defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban, making the overall problem of terrorism worse rather than better; and that with its population of 175 million, its possession of nuclear weapons, and its position contiguous to Afghanistan and India, Pakistan is the most important and dangerous country in the world at the present time.
Caldwell is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Pepperdine University. Previously, he held positions at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California; Brown University; and the Executive Office of the President in Washington, D.C. His books include American-Soviet Relations, The Dynamics of Domestic Politics of Arms Control, World Politics and You, and Seeking Security in an Insecure World. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and chair of the Council's Academic Outreach Initiative.
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