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Crossing Zero: The Afpak War at the Turning Point of American Empire (City Lights Open Media)by Elizabeth Gould
Synopses & Reviews
"Fitzgerald and Gould do yeoman's labor in clearing the fog and laying bare American failures in Afghanistan."—Publishers Weekly, starred review of Invisible History
The war in Afghanistan has become the most complex foreign policy problem the United States has ever faced, spreading into Pakistan and involving the conflicting interests of Russia, India, China and Iran. Written as a companion to Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald's widely acclaimed book Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story, Crossing Zero focuses on the nuances of the Obama administration's evolving military and political strategy, the people implementing it, and the long-term consequences for the United States and the region.
"Broadcast journalists and documentary filmmakers Fitzgerald and Gould (Invisible History) distill three decades of covering Afghanistan into a searing indictment of U.S. foreign policy in this predictable and unconvincing polemic. Dismissing the U.S. war in Afghanistan as 'a thinly disguised effort to dominate South Central Asia,' the authors conclude that the Durand (or Zero) line — the porous international border that separates Afghanistan and Pakistan — also marks 'the vanishing point for the American empire, the point beyond which its power and influence disappears or simply ceases to exist.' Pointing to the chaos in Afghanistan and an Iraq descending into violence, the authors evoke 'a punch-drunk American leadership on the verge of collapse.' While their contention that U.S. policy in Afghanistan is seriously, if not fatally, flawed is legitimate, it has been made less dogmatically and more convincingly by other recent critics, including war correspondent and former defense official Bing West in The Wrong War. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"I loved it. An extraordinary contribution to understanding war and geo-politics in Afghanistan that will shock most Americans by its revelations of official American government complicity in using, shielding, sponsoring and supporting terrorism. A devastating indictment on the behind-the-scenes shenanigans by some of America’s most respected statesmen" —Daniel Estulin, author of The True Story of the Bilderberg Club
"Americans are now beginning to grasp the scope of the mess their leaders made while pursuing misguided military adventures into regions of Central Asia we once called 'remote.' How this happened—and what the US can do to extricate itself from its entanglements in Pakistan and Afghanistan—is the story of Crossing Zero. Based on decades of study and research, this book draws lines and connects dots in ways few others do. It is clear, sober and methodical—an ideal handbook for anyone seeking to understand how the US became the latest imperial power to blunder into this turbulent and fascinating region."—Stephen Kinzer, author of All the Shah's Men and Reset: Iran, Turkey and America's Future
"Fitzgerald and Gould have consistently raised the difficult questions and inconvenient truths about western engagement in Afghanistan. While many analysts and observers have attempted to wish a reality on a grim and tragic situation in Afghanistan, Fitzgerald and Gould have systematically dug through the archives and historical record with integrity and foresight to reveal a series of misguided strategies and approaches that have contributed to what has become a tragic quagmire in Afghanistan. I suspect that many of their assessments while presently viewed as controversial and contentious, will eventually be considered conventional wisdom.” —Professor Thomas Johnson, Department of National Security Affairs and Director, Program for Culture and Conflict Studies, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey California
"Gould and Fitzgerald have identified the triumphalist strain that has marked American foreign policy over the past 100 years and documented President Obama's failure to introduce change to American national security policy. The war in Afghanistan is consistent with previous failures in U.S. policymaking over the past 50 years as well as with the misuse of military force. This book should be required reading at the National Security Council and the Pentagon." — Melvin A. Goodman, CIA Senior Soviet Analyst 1966-1990, Senior Fellow, Center for International Policy, Washington, DC.
"After several decades of facile and destructive answers from Washington policymakers, the authors deploy a phalanx of incisive questions about U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The result is a book that shatters the key myths promoted by American news media and the last six presidents. Crossing Zero is a searing expose of distortions that have fundamentally warped U.S. perceptions and actions in the 'AfPak' region. Fitzgerald and Gould provide crucial antidotes to poisonous assumptions and bromides of conventional wisdom that continue to delude the USA into further lethal follies. This book deconstructs and dismantles a deadly formula of ignorance and deceit." —Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death
"In Crossing Zero, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould provide a much needed antidote to mainstream accounts of the AfPak war by documenting in detail the disastrous consequences of United States and NATO military intervention in the region. Drawing from a wide range of sources, and written in crisp, clear prose, the book will be useful to students, researchers, policy makers, and anyone interested in knowing the truth." —Julien Mercille, University College Dublin
"Crossing Zero is much more than a devastating indictment of the folly of U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan. Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould demonstrate that the U.S. debacle in Afghanistan is the predictable climax of U.S. imperial overreach on a global scale. Like their earlier work documenting the origins of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan during the Cold War, Crossing Zero deserves the attention of all serious students of U.S. foreign policy." —Selig S. Harrison, co-author of Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal
"Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould have seen the importance of the 'Great Game' in Afghanistan since the early 1980s. They have been most courageous in their commitment to telling the truth — and have paid a steep price for it. Their views have never been acceptable to mainstream media in our country, but they deserve accolades. If only our establishment had listened to them." —Oliver Stone
"Crossing Zero is much more than a devastating indictment of the folly of U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan. Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould demonstrate that the U.S. debacle in Afghanistan is the predictable climax of U.S. imperial overreach on a global scale. Like their earlier work documenting the origins of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan during the Cold War, Crossing Zero deserves the attention of all serious students of U.S. foreign policy." —Selig S. Harrison, Co-author with Diego Cordovez of Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal
"A ferocious, iron-clad argument about the institutional failure of American foreign policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan." — Daniel Ellsberg
"Volume two of an angry dissection of America’s misadventures in Afghanistan. After a critical account of the war to 2008 (Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, 2009), this follow-up evaluates how it has fared under President Obama. The news is not good. . . . The authors brush off the administration’s recent proclamation of a shift from fighting to counterinsurgency that emphasizes protecting the population and building infrastructure. They point out that 'protecting the population' requires an immense increase in troops, which neither Congress nor our NATO allies will support. Furthermore, it’s not happening. An intensely documented, detailed and discouraging account from journalists who had high hopes for President Obama." --Kirkus Reviews
"Crossing Zero is an in-depth analysis of the American intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What this book will teach you is that the entire adventure in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been and will continue to be a fiscal, military, diplomatic, and international disaster for the United States." --The Doug Noll Show
"Crossing Zero thoroughly documents how the best-laid plans of Western powers have led to three decades of incessant war and the annihilation of Afghanistan’s secular tribal structure, transforming it into one of the most violent and poverty-stricken places on earth. . . . Afghanistan has become more than just a stark illustration of the ineptitude of Obama’s misguided AfPak strategy – it reflects the futility of de-emphasizing diplomacy and how U.S. militarism has worked against our own interests. War and the endless preparations for it do more harm than good, destroying what they claim to protect." --Michael Hughes, Huffington Post
"The authors portray policies of previous years (e.g., U.S. support of insurgents fighting the Soviet invasion) as now coming back to hurt us, part of a repetition of errors previously made by European powers in the region over the past 400 years. They have marshaled an impressive array of sources, both journalistic and academic, to demonstrate that their ideas have long been available, if only policymakers had chosen to heed them. . . . Readers with a serious interest in U.S. foreign policy or military strategy will find it helpful in thinking about a long-lived issue." --Library Journal
A cutting-edge analysis of the AfPak war involving Russia, India, China, and Iran, emphasizing US strategy and the people implementing it.
About the Author
Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, began working together in 1979 co-producing a documentary for Paul's television show, Watchworks. Called, The Arms Race and the Economy, A Delicate Balance, they found themselves in the midst of a swirling controversy that was to boil over a few months later with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Their acquisition of the first visas to enter Afghanistan granted to an American TV crew in the spring of 1981, brought them into the middle of the most heated Cold War controversy since Vietnam. But the pictures and the people inside Soviet occupied Afghanistan told a very different story from the one being broadcast on the evening news.
Following their exclusive news story for the CBS Evening News, they produced a documentary (Afghanistan Between Three Worlds) for PBS and in 1983 they returned to Kabul for ABC Nightline with Harvard Negotiation project director Roger Fisher. They were told that the Russians wanted to go home and negotiate their way out. Peace in Afghanistan was more than a possibility. It was a desired option. But the story that President Carter called, "the greatest threat to peace since the second World War" had already been written by America's policy makers and America's pundits were not about to change the script.
As the first American journalists to get deeply inside the story they not only got a view of an unseen Afghan life, but a revelatory look at how the US defined itself against the rest of the world under the veil of superpower confrontation. Once the Soviets had crossed the border into Afghanistan, the fate of both nations was sealed. But as Paul and Liz pursued the reasons behind the wall of propaganda that shielded the truth, they found themselves drawn into a story that was growing into mythic dimensions. Big things were brewing in Afghanistan. Old empires were being undone and new ones, hatched. America had launched a Medieval Crusade against the modern world and the ten year war against the Soviet Union was only the first chapter.
It was at the time of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 when Paul and Liz were working on the film version of their experience under contract to Oliver Stone, that they began to piece together the mythic implications of the story. During the research for the screenplay many of the documents preceding the Afghan crisis were declassified. Over the next decade they trailed a labyrinth of clues only to find a profound likeness in Washington's official policy towards Afghanistan - in the ancient Zoroastrian war of the light against the dark - whose origins began in the region now known as Afghanistan. It was a likeness that grows more visible as America's involvement deepens.
Afghanistan's civil war followed America's Cold War while Washington walked away. A new strain of religious holy warrior called the Taliban arose but no one in America was listening. As the horrors of the Taliban regime began to grab headlines in 1998 Paul and Liz began collaborating with Afghan human rights expert Sima Wali. Along with Wali, they contributed to the Women for Afghan Women: Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future book project. In 2002 they filmed Wali's first return to Kabul since her exile in 1978. The film they produced about Wali's journey home, The Woman in Exile Returns, gave audiences the chance to discover the message of one of Afghanistan's most articulate voices and her hopes for her people.
In the years since 9/11 much has happened to bring Paul and Liz's story into sharp focus. Their efforts at combining personal diplomacy with activist journalism is a model for restoring a healthy and vibrant dialogue to American democracy. Ultimately their book, Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story lays bare why it was inevitable that the Soviet Union and the U.S. should end up in Afghanistan and what that means to the future of the American empire.
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