The Forty-Year War in Afghanistan
A Chronicle Foretold
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272 pages / November 2021 / 9781839768170
November 2021 / 9781839768224

The occupation of Afghanistan is over, and a balance sheet can be drawn. These essays on war and peace in the region reveal Tariq Ali at his sharpest and most prescient.

Rarely has there been such an enthusiastic display of international unity as that which greeted the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Compared to Iraq, Afghanistan became the “good war.” But a stalemate ensued, and the Taliban waited out the NATO contingents. Today, with the collapse of the puppet regime in Kabul, what does the future hold for a traumatised Afghan people? Will China become the dominant influence in the country?

Tariq Ali has been following the wars in Afghanistan for forty years. He opposed Soviet military interven- tion in 1979, predicting disaster. He was also a fierce critic of its NATO sequel, Operation Enduring Freedom. In a series of trenchant commentaries, he has described the tragedies inflicted on Afghanistan, as well as the semi-Talibanisation and militarisation of neighbouring Pakistan. Most of his predictions have proved accurate. The Forty-Year War in Afghanistan: A Chronicle Foretold brings together the best of his writings and includes a new introduction.


“Ali’s discussion of Afghanistan is highly valuable because of the questions it raises … a starting point for a much-needed debate.”

“The typical Financial Times reader might find his bias so irksome they cannot continue. This would be a pity.”

“Erudite and committed … This collection is indispensable for forming an understanding of what has happened and why.”

“No one, Left or Right, has followed the misadventure of US policy in Afghanistan with such dogged attention and keen insight.”

“Evergreen … Ali has argued against each occupation from its beginning; the result is an embittered, haunting refrain.”

“A key contribution to make sense of the decades-long events that culminated in the chaotic scenes at Kabul’s airport in August 2021.”

“Unlike pro-interventionist liberal and even conservative interpretations of Afghanistan’s recent history, Ali’s anti-imperialist understanding provides the glue that binds the bloody tale together.”

“Brilliant and incisive … a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the causes and consequences of the decades-long turmoil in Afghanistan.”

“Witty, insightful, and full of detail … a book replete with encounters and anecdotes, evocative descriptions, and a brutal honesty about the corrupting power of war.”

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