Vortex of Conflict

Title:                      Vortex of Conflict

Author:                   Dan Caldwell

Caldwell, Dan (2011). Vortex of Conflict: U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Stanford, CA: Stanford Security Studies.

LOC:       2010045290

E902 .C34 2011

Date Posted:      April 6, 2013

LOC:       2010045290

Date Submitted: 25 November 2012

The following description the review from books.google.com.

More than two million Americans have now served in Afghanistan or Iraq; more than 5,000 Americans have been killed; and more than 35,000 have been grievously wounded. The war in Afghanistan has become America’s longest war. Despite these facts, most Americans do not understand the background of, or reasons for, the United States’ involvement in these two wars.

Utilizing an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, author Dan Caldwell describes and makes sense of the relevant historical, political, cultural, and ideological, elements related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps most importantly, he demonstrates how they are interrelated in a number of important ways.

Beginning with a description of the history of the two conflicts within the context of U.S. policies toward Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan—because American policy toward terrorism and Afghanistan cannot be understood without some consideration of Pakistan—he outlines and analyzes the major issues of the two wars. These include intelligence quality, war plans, postwar reconstruction, inter-agency policymaking, U.S. relations with allies, and the shift from a conventional to counterinsurgency strategy. He concludes by capturing the lessons learned from these two conflicts and points to their application in future conflict.

Vortex of Conflict is the first, accessible, one-volume resource for anyone who wishes to understand why and how the U.S. became involved in these two wars—and in the affairs of Pakistan—concurrently. It will stand as the comprehensive reference work for general readers seeking a road map to the conflicts, for students looking for analysis and elucidation of the relevant data, and for veterans and their families seeking to better understand their own experience.


Title:                      Afghanistan

Author:                M. Hassan Kakar

Kakar, M. Hassan (1995). Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion And The Afghan Response, 1979-1982

LOC:       93036111

DS371.2 .K35 1995

Date Posted:      April 3, 2013

Hafizmullah Amin was the American-educated president of Afghanistan[1]. Amin was shot dead during 1929 during Operation OAK, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, over Christmas 1979, during which the KGB, supported by GRU Spetsnaz troops, had surrounded the Duralamin palace in Kabul. The assassination had been authorized by Yuri Andropov, one of the four members of the Politburo on 12 December, the others being General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev himself, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and Defense Minister Demitri Ustinov. As the elite 105th Guards Air Assault Division landed in Kabul and Bagram and four motorized rifle divisions poured ovwer the Oxus River, two battalions of paratroops fought their way into the palace complex and took control while the KGB and Spetnaz teams put Amin and his supporters up against a wall and shot them on 27 December.

The assassination plot, code named AGATE was first disclosed by the KGB defector Vladimir Kuzichkin, himself an experienced Directorate S officer, who revealed that an Azerbaijani illegal, Mikhail Talybov, had been infiltrated into the palace as a chef with instructions to poison Amin’s food, but the opportunity never arose. After Brezhnev had approved a full-scale invasion, the head of Directorate S, Vadim V. Kirpichenko, flew into Kabul to supervise the operation, together with the head of Department 8, Vladimir Krasovsky, and his deputy, Aleksandr Lazarenko. Unexpectedly, the Alpha and Zenith special foerces, which had practiced for weeks at the KGB’s training center at Balashikha, encountered much stronger resistance than had been anticipated and more than a hundred of the elite troops perished in the firefight, among them the leader of the main assault, Col. Grigori Boyarinov. President Amin was replaced by the Kremlin’s nominee, Babrak Kamal.

Few people are more respected or better positioned to speak on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan than M. Hassan Kakar. A professor at Kabul University and scholar of Afghanistan affairs at the time of the 1978 coup d’état, Kakar vividly describes the events surrounding the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the encounter between the military superpower and the poorly armed Afghans. The events that followed are carefully detailed, with eyewitness accounts and authoritative documentation that provide an unparalleled view of this historical moment.

Because of his prominence Kakar was at first treated with deference by the Marxist government and was not imprisoned, although he openly criticized the regime. When he was put behind bars the outcry from scholars all over the world possibly saved his life. In prison for five years, he continued collecting information, much of it from prominent Afghans of varying political persuasions who were themselves prisoners.

Kakar brings firsthand knowledge and a historian’s sensibility to his account of the invasion and its aftermath. This is both a personal document and a historical one—Kakar lived through the events he describes, and his concern for human rights rather than party politics infuses his writing. As Afghans and the rest of the world try to make sense of Afghanistan’s recent past, Kakar’s voice will be one of those most listened to.

[1] West, Nigel (2006). Historical Dictionary of International Intelligence. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, pp. 12-13

Cardinal of the Kremlin

Title:                  Cardinal of the Kremlin

Author:                 Tom Clancy

Clancy, Tom (1988). Cardinal of the Kremlin. New York: Putnam

PS3553.L245 C37 1988


Date Updated:  November 6, 2015

This book is Tom Clancy writing at his best. He has not gone overboard with his ultra-rightist politic al philosophy, and has written a great story, one that conceivably could have happened. The characters, dialog, and action are top-grade Clancy. He fully scores with taut political intrigue and suspenseful military action. Clancy leaves out nothing. The scope and detail that Clancy worked into this novel is mind boggling. He sets up a huge number of variables and then works through to the conclusion of every one of those variables.

The Cardinal of the Kremlin is author Tom Clancy’s fourth novel, and the third about Jack Ryan and his friends and colleagues. Clancy has a number of future stories in mind as he writes, for he sets up future books as he writes this one. In later books there are many references to the Cardinal.

The Cardinal of the Kremlin is so large in its scope and detail that it is difficult to summarize the plot here. Dr. Jack Ryan drives this novel, first and foremost. He is, of course, the well known lead character from The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games. As the novel begins, we find that Dr. Ryan is still working as an analyst for the CIA’s DDI, Deputy Director of Intelligence. He’s presently trying to work up a paper based the current negotiations between the United States and the USSR on ICBMs.

We’re then taken to the “Archer” who is an Afghanistan resistance fighter and part of the Mujahideen. Owing to what the Soviets have done to him and his family, he has no love lost for them. They even captured his son and took him to the Soviet Union for “reeducation,” hence his intense desire to fight and kill as many Soviets as he can.

From there we’re introduced to the “Cardinal” of the Kremlin, Misha Filitov who is a Colonel in the Soviet Army and a three time Hero of the Soviet Union from his days as a tank commander in the Great War. Hinted at in previous Clancy novels, this Colonel has been disillusioned by the way of life in the Soviet Union that has caused the death of his wife and his son, hence his having been turned by American agents. In his present position with the Defense Ministry, he has been passing Soviets secrets to the Americans for thirty years.

The story unfolds in a credible way, and the ending is not obvious at any point in the book, although the experienced intelligence buff may glean what is likely to happen. It’s a book I keep and enjoy reading, as I do all of Clancy’s books, although I wish he would not be so in your face about his ultra-conservative political views.