On the twentieth anniversary of the American invasion of Afghanistan, Ibrahim Moiz walks through the turbulent events of 2001 that birthed a system doomed to failure.
This month marks twenty years since the American invasion of Afghanistan captured most of the country, including its capital Kabul, from the Taliban Emirate, and kicked off a generation of occupation and insurgency. With the Taliban insurgency having recaptured Afghanistan in a campaign that featured many of the same players across both sides, this article will review the invasion of 2001-02 that first swept them from power.
The September 2001 attacks on the United States, which killed some three thousand people and paved the way for Washington’s global war on terror, were planned in Afghanistan but were very much a sideshow in the country itself. The Al-Qaeda network that was responsible, led by Osama bin Laden, had relocated to Afghanistan shortly before the Taliban takeover of Kabul in 1996, but operated largely outside Taliban control and oversight. Bin Laden’s links to Afghanistan were by no means restricted to the Taliban Emirate and traced back to the 1980s, but the Emirate’s reluctance to extradite him would lead to a coupling of Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the public imagination that was by no means certain.
Bin Laden sweetened the deal for an isolated Taliban by offering money and organisation for a brigade of foreign fighters, largely Pakistanis and Arabs, fighting with the Taliban army against a coalition of northern Afghan militias commonly known as the Northern Front. Now reduced to stubborn holdout in a few pockets of northern Afghanistan, this coalition comprised many protagonists of the civil war that had preceded the Taliban takeover. They included, in rough order of importance, the former mujahideen Jamiat party, led by Burhanuddin Rabbani and his formidable military shieldbearer Ahmad Shah Massoud; the Turkic Junbish party led by former communist militia commander Abdul-Rashid Dostum; the Hazara Wahdat party led by Abdul Karim Khalili and Muhammad Mohaqiq; and the former mujahideen Ittihad party led by Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf. A fifth former mujahideen leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar of Hezb Islami, was only reluctantly and vaguely allied with the coalition given his enmity with Massoud, whose Nezar council of military leaders from northeast Afghanistan bore the brunt of the campaign. Only two days before the September 2001 attacks, Massoud was assassinated in what is believed to have been a Al-Qaeda hit to underscore bin Laden’s importance to the Taliban Emirate.
Nonetheless, the Taliban Emirate were as surprised as anybody else by the attack on the United States, for which bin Laden did not immediately claim responsibility. Their closest sympathiser in Washington was Pakistani spymaster Mahmud Ahmed, whose government – then led by army commander Pervez Musharraf – had been among the few to recognise their rule and provide support. Like many colleagues, Mahmud personally sympathised with the Taliban Emirate and had no illusions about either the scale of American outrage at the attacks and the outflow of international sympathy that ensued. He and Nizamuddin Shamzai, a Pashtun preacher with links to both Islamabad and Kabul, rushed to Qandahar, the Emirate’s unofficial capital, where they unsuccessfully urged Taliban emir Umar Mujahid to extradite bin Laden and avert a catastrophe.
Umar’s refusal to extradite bin Laden has been interpreted variously as proof of his links to bin Laden, as Taliban sympathy for Al-Qaeda aims, or as an internationally tone-deaf prioritisation of Pashtun hospitality over realism. Though the last factor might have played a role, it was also the case that bin Laden had underscored his importance to the Taliban Emirate by funding and providing some measure of discipline to foreign fighters. In a period of isolation, there was no guarantee that bin Laden’s extradition would not provoke a mutiny within the Taliban movement, by foreign fighters, or for that matter – given that previous concessions by the Emirate had failed to remove international isolation – hold off the attack for a stung United States baying for revenge.
Taliban suspicion could only have increased when Robert Grenier, the American regional spymaster in Pakistan, secretly urged deputy foreign minister Abdul-Jalil Akhundzada and Qandahar corps commander Akhtar Usmani to mount a coup against Umar. Both refused, Abdul-Jalil revealingly explaining that the Emirate could not afford to offend other Muslims by betraying bin Laden, a veteran of the jihad against the Soviets. This inflated sense of bin Laden’s popularity reflected both the limited sophistication of the Taliban movement and Al-Qaeda’s success in exploiting it.
Regional Response: Pakistan, Iran, and Afghan alternatives
The official Taliban position, that proof should be provided for bin Laden’s involvement before any steps could be taken, could have worked in a calmer period. But the Emirate had already been vilified for both real and imaginary sins over years, and the Al-Qaeda attacks had scandalised not only America but most of the world. The Emirate’s few foreign backers withdrew; most controversial among these was Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf. Against the advice of most corps commanders and much of the public mood, he opted to support the impending American invasion of Afghanistan and thus cut Pakistan’s losses.
The other states in the region – Russia, Iran, India, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – had already been supporting the opposition, but Pakistan’s about-face was sufficiently controversial to provoke dissent even among Musharraf’s lieutenants. To set an example, he sacked the most notable dissidents – his second-in-command Muzaffar Usmani and spymaster Mahmud – while sidelining a third, Lahore corps commander Muhammad Aziz, upstairs. Another Taliban sympathiser, Musharraf’s relative-by-marriage Shahid Aziz, was promoted to command the ground forces as compromise; yet Musharraf would increasingly bypass the regular command when it came to dealings with the United States. More controversially yet, the Pakistani dictator would imprison and send into American custody the widely respected Taliban ambassador to Islamabad, Abdul-Salam Zaeef. His military regime having hitherto suffered sanctions from the United States, Musharraf blamed Taliban intransigence for their impending fate and also as a way to cut Pakistan’s losses and pre-empt an American-Indian coalition in the region: this policy would soon backfire.
If the American invasion repudiated Pakistani policy, it was a boon for Washington’s supposed enemy in Iran. The Iranian government led by Mohammad Khatami had played a major role in backing the Northern Front, particularly its Jamiat and Wahdat segments. Having long advocated engagement with the West, Khatami saw Afghanistan as a potential launchpad for further cooperation. In at least this case he was supported across the political spectrum: Iranian officials who urged on the invasion, included praetorian external commander Qassem Soleimani and future foreign minister Javad Zarif, who would later earn reputations as respectively hawk and dove in the Iranian establishment.
In October 2001 the United States, not yet with a mandate from even a sympathetic United Nations, began their invasion in a fashion that has become inseparable from American warfare: heavy aerial bombardment. Their initial dispatch of soldiers was relatively light, instead relying on Afghan militias. Several militia commanders, such as the practiced mercenary Dostum, benefited enormously from American largesse in the early days of the war, rebuilding and rallying their hitherto pressured militias. Dostum’s militia had a particularly brutal reputation that needed little foreign encouragement, but by and large American suzerainty would, like its Soviet predecessors, prod on the worst instincts of its vassals: the American focus on counterterrorism incentivised allied militias to rule out any compromise or negotiation with their opponents, Taliban or otherwise.
The withering American bombardment that began in October 2001 rattled Taliban garrisons around the country; a week into the attack, prime minister Muhammad Abdul Kabir offered a conditional extradition of bin Laden that was rejected. Akhtar Mansur, later Umar’s successor as emir and then something akin to an airforce commander, was injured early on, but even at full health he had no way to respond to the bombardment since the Emirate had no air defence.
The ferocity of the bombardment even shocked some of the Taliban’s opponents. This was the case with Abdul Haq Arsala, a former mujahideen commander from the same party, led by Younas Khalis, as Taliban prime minister Abdul-Kabir and many other Taliban leaders, but whose brother Abdul Qadeer had been ejected from Jalalabad during the Taliban takeover five years earlier. Abdul Haq had toured Washington in the 1980s, and seemed the most promising prospect for a Pashtun alternative to the Emirate. Pashtun opposition– based mainly around exiled monarchists, exiled communists, and rival mujahideen commanders – had been only piecemeal, but the United States, who perceived the Emirate as a fundamentally Pashtun movement, wanted a co-ethnic figurehead around whom to rally the opposition. In this they were encouraged by Pakistan, who feared a northern return to power, and other states who had had tense relations with the northerners.
Abdul Haq’s foray into eastern Afghanistan to rally Pashtun resistance, however, ended in disaster; he was caught and quickly executed for suspected subversion, reportedly meeting his fate with cool equanimity. Instead the United States would settle on Hamid Karzai, from the Popalzai clan, as their prospective figurehead. He belonged to a prominent monarchist family and had himself served as deputy foreign minister in the stillborn mujahideen cabinet of the early 1990s, but he was perhaps best known and valued for his stint with an American oil company that had unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with the Emirate a few years earlier. Much to the irritation of the more militarily adept Northern Front, Karzai would be promoted as a natural Pashtun counterweight to the Taliban Emirate who could unite Afghans across the spectrum.
The Emirate Cracks
A month into the bombardment, Taliban resistance began to crack. Herat, the centrepiece of the west, was among the earliest cities to fall against an attack that featured American commandos, militia commanders Ismail Khan and Zahir Azimi, and even Iranian praetorian commander Rahim Safavi. Yet a brief counterattack by Taliban commander Abdul Hannan Jihadwal did buy enough respite for much of the garrison to withdraw safely. In what was then a footnote but would have historical repercussions, the escapers from Herat included the Jordanian militant Fadil Nazzal – later infamous as Abu Musab Zarqawi, who would escape through Iran and mount a sectarian war after the American invasion of Iraq years later.
The bloodiest front, however, was the north, where the opposition had been duelling the Emirate for several years. With Minister of Defence Obaidullah Akhund stationed at Kabul, his main lieutenants – Abdul Ghani Bradar, and Kakar clansmen Fazil Mazlumyar and Dadullah Lang – had been stationed, west to east, at Mazari Sharif, Kunduz, and Taluqan. Most of the northern Taliban corps withdrew into Kunduz, the most hospitable stronghold in the region, leaving skeleton garrisons elsewhere.
In the east, Nezar commander Daud Daud swooped in and took Taliban Taluqan commandant Shabbir Ahmad prisoner. In the west, Taliban corps commander Abdul Razzaq Nafiz ordered an advance force, led by Abdul Qahir Usmani, to stall Dostum’s march on Mazari Sharif. This force was cut to shreds; Nafiz was himself injured, and initially presumed slain, by airstrike; and his second-in-command Mulla Daud ordered a surrender after his capture. Some four hundred captives – largely foreign fighters – were trooped off toward Dostum’s fort further west, but when they attempted a revolt the Junbish troops, led by Dostum and his brutal aide Abdul Majeed Rouzi, summarily killed some three hundred. That broke the Taliban in Balkh, which from then on would be the site of conflict instead between Dostum and his Jamiat rival, Ata Noor.
The Siege of Kunduz
This set the stage for the siege of Kunduz. The entire Taliban northern corps as well as foreign fighters, led by commander Jumabai Qosimov of Namangan, were holed up in the city under bone-rattling bombardment from the air while militias approached from three sides. From the east came Daud Daud of Nezar; from the south Muhammad Mohaqiq of Wahdat; and from the west Dostum. Jumabai, a legendary commander from Uzbekistan who had partaken in the Tajikistan civil war, was reported to have been killed, though the exact circumstances remain murky since both Dostum and Daud would claim credit for his elimination.
The Taliban force in Kunduz included Fazil, who appears to have taken primary responsibility among his peers after Bradar was injured, as well as governor-general Nurullah Nuri and Dadullah, whose battlefield prowess had propelled him to the Emirate’s top ranks. Also reinforcing them were Kabul corps commander Abdul Rauf Khadim and his Alizai clansman Abdul Qayum Zakir, who led a frontline brigade drawn from their Helmand province. Finally there were local mujahideen veterans, including provincial governor Umar Khan and brigade commander Hashim Khan, who had joined the Emirate during its initial arrival in the region.
Dostum, who had the mafioso’s knack for juggling extreme brutality with bluff displays of public magnanimity, offered Fazil and Dadullah an amnesty in return for surrender. Against his better judgement, Fazil agreed, and dispatched the Arabic-speaking Zakir to inform the foreign fighters. It was a mistake; Fazil, Nuri, Khadim, and Zakir were soon rounded off to American custody in Cuba, while their troops, especially the foreigners, were imprisoned or killed in circumstances of gruelling sadism. Some respite was afforded to such local leaders as Khans Umar and Hashim; the latter, however, was killed with his captors in an aircraft crash.
A still more intriguing case was what became known, at least in the West, as the “Airlift of Evil”. In spite of his controversial alliance with the United States, Musharraf had no intention of putting his eggs in the Northern Front’s unreliable basket. He thus skilfully exploited his newfound bonhomie with Washington to arrange an airlift, under the noses of bemused American troops ordered not to interfere, of several hundred Taliban fighters and officers, who might have included Pakistani recruits that could have embarrassed Islamabad. The Taliban who were flown out of Kunduz perhaps included the injured commanders Bradar and Nafiz, since both had been presumed slain but would soon resurface in the south. Another Taliban commander shrewd enough not to trust Dostum was Dadullah, who would also resurface in the south amid rumours that he had tricked his way through Junbish lines.
The Capture of Kabul
With the north and west in their hands, the Northern Front now set their sights on Kabul, where ongoing bombardment had shaken Taliban morale and, in addition, killed Mohamed Atef – the Al-Qaeda military commander who had planned the attacks on the United States. Qasim Fahim, the former Nezar spymaster who had replaced Massoud, had a clear road south to the capital. There Taliban defence minister Obaidullah, having consulted with Umar, opted for an orderly withdrawal to the major cities still under Emirate control – south to Kandahar and east to Jalalabad.
But this plan was neatly sabotaged. Abdul Samad Khaksar, a Taliban founder and spymaster who had secretly fallen out with his peers and switched sides, sent out dispatches to units that announced a surrender and a broad withdrawal. With most Taliban units melting away, Obaidullah had to recall his trusted commandant at Bagram airbase, Ibrahim Sadar, to the thinning garrison at Kabul while he himself rushed to organise the Emirate’s stronghold in Kandahar.
As a result Fahim’s lieutenants, Abdul Wahid Babajan and Bismillah Muhammadi – former communist and mujahideen commanders, respectively, who had long contested Taliban control over Bagram – were able to take the airbase and thus commanded both aerial and ground advance to Kabul. They paused only in deference to the United States, whom Pakistan had been begging not to let the northerners enter the capital, but then entered anyway. Jamiat emir Rabbani took what he considered his rightful place back in the capital after a five-year absence.
Jamiat’s return to Kabul alarmed the United States, who considered Rabbani both too controversial and weak to run a unifying government. They had meanwhile attempted to give Karzai a spectacular entry into Afghanistan; he was smuggled into Uruzgan province with an American commando team and took over its capital, Tarinkot, without much resistance. This was perhaps partly because the Taliban leaders viewed Karzai as a preferable alternative to the Northern Front; he, in turn, was not opposed to negotiating with them, but would find that the United States and his militia counterparts had very different ideas.
The Siege of Qandahar
Led by future defence minister James Mattis, the United States now entered the south in full force. Aerial bombardment continued to target the Taliban leaders; only one strike, which purportedly killed Taliban spymaster Muhammad Ahmadullah, seems to have found its mark, and even that is uncertain. Ahmadullah’s cousin and second-in-command Abdul Haq Wasiq, meanwhile, was persuaded to negotiate at Ghazni; upon his arrival he found American spies who promptly abducted him and sent him to join his colleagues in Guantanamo. Such skulduggery would be even more common among the Pashtun commanders that the United States contracted, some of the most notoriously predatory militias that the Taliban movement had originally ousted in 1994.
These included Gul-Agha Sherzai, a thuggish former Kandahar governor from the Barakzai clan, and an Achakzai militia from the border town Spin Boldak, which had been contracted by the communist regime in the 1980s and had earned a particularly brutal reputation that would continue under its sadistic new commander, Abdul Raziq Khan. In November 2001 they attacked Spin Boldak and captured it from Taliban commandant Hafiz Abdul Rahim, whose Nurzai clan would soon suffer particular victimisation at Abdul Raziq’s hands.
Nervous about their prospects against such rivals, independent Nurzai commanders from the mujahideen period – including Haji Abdul-Khaliq, Saleh Malang, and Wakil Abdul Samad – tried to persuade their clansmates in the Emirate to accept the fait accompli and stand down to spare themselves more trouble. Among those who were persuaded was Haji Bashir, a Nurzai militia commander and early supporter of the Emirate who disarmed. Similarly, commanders Naqibullah Gul and Raees Abdul Wahid, from the Alakozai and Alizai clans respectively, stood down and tried to obtain an amnesty for Umar; this would lead their rivals to accuse them of having enabled the Taliban to escape.
In fact, as the United States and affiliated militias laid siege to Kandahar in December 2001, Umar seemed to have realised that they had little interest in negotiation; several envoys, including Taliban foreign minister Abdul Wakil Muttawakkil and provincial sheriff Hafiz Abdul Majeed had come back empty-handed. Umar was therefore prevailed upon to quietly escape to the countryside on a motorcycle – driven by his confidante Abdul Jabbar Umari – leaving two other confidantes, Obaidullah and Bradar, in command.
While the siege of Kandahar tightened, a prospective political arrangement was being negotiated far off in the German city Bonn. Here former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi, acting on behalf of the United Nations, and Afghan-American envoy Zalmay Khalilzad assembled different Afghan factions, while pointedly excluding any Taliban representatives. Though Jamiat emir Rabbani was perhaps inclined to stay on in Kabul, his Panjsheri Nezar lieutenants – Fahim, Yunus Qanooni, and Abdullah Abdullah – realized that he was too weak and perhaps controversial a candidate. They were prepared to put up with a Pashtun figurehead, but flatly opposed the aging former monarch, Muttawakkil Zahir Shah.
Both Zahir Shah and the Nezar leaders agreed on Karzai as an acceptable compromise to front a regime whose major cabinets – foreign, interior, and defence portfolios – went respectively to Abdullah, Qanooni, and Fahim of Panjsher. The monarchist Hidayat Amin took the foreign ministry, while mujahideen commander Abdul Qadeer, the brother of the executed Abdul Haq, served as Karzai’s deputy. A notable defector from the Nezar camp to Karzai was Doctor Abdul Rahman, who had formerly been a particularly cunning fixer for Massoud; he was given the pilgrimage ministry, yet when he was lynched two months later at the Kabul airport Karzai would accuse a resentful Northern Front of having planned his assassination. These, and other episodes, continued to show the lurking mistrust in the United States’ coalition.
It is not certain how much of this was known to the Taliban command in Kandahar, but certainly as the fighting wore them down they began to search for alternatives. Three of the Emirate’s top military leaders – defence minister Obaidullah, his second-in-command Bradar, and interior minister Abdul Razzaq Akhundzada – as well as Umar’s aide Tayeb Agha and the ambassador Muhammad Haqqani sent out feelers to their attackers, offering a conditional surrender in turn for amnesty. The idea interested Karzai, but no sooner did American defence minister Donald Rumsfeld catch wind than he vetoed it. “You are with us or the terrorists,” George Bush had said, and in such black-and-white terms the sort of negotiated resolution so common in traditional Afghan conflict was impossible.
Rather than surrender, the Taliban gradually filtered out of Kandahar and into the countryside, where militia harassment would provoke those who had seriously considered surrender back into the insurgency. A handful of fighters, led by sheriff Abdul Majeed, fought on for several weeks in a city quarter before their own withdrawal. Within eighteen months, the Taliban leaders whose attempts to compromise had been rejected would regroup just across the border in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The opportunity for a resolution was lost.
Manhunts in the Mountains
Eastern Afghanistan, where the Emirate had always been weaker, offered a potential opportunity for compromise. In particular, the Arsala brothers Abdul Qadeer, Abdul Haq, and Din-Muhammad shared links, via Khalis’ mujahideen party of the 1980s, to eastern Taliban leaders. These included prime minister Abdul Kabir, Khalis’ son Anwarul-Haq Mujahid, and – further south in the Loya Paktia highlands – Jalaluddin Haqqani. Yet it was also a region where bin Laden, drawing largely on pre-Taliban links from the 1980s, was far more at home – and thus offered rich opportunity for the same sort of headhunting counterterrorism approach that prevailed further south.
When the United States had refused his conditional offer to extradite bin Laden shortly after the war began, Abdul Kabir publicly announced his solidarity for the Al-Qaeda emir. Similarly Haqqani sounded out a defiant note; drawing on his old links with Islamabad, he urged Musharraf’s regime to support the Emirate in order to assure a pro-Pakistan government in Kabul at the very point as Pakistan-India tensions were at their peak. “Does Pakistan really want a new government, which will include pro-India people in it, thereby wiping out its strategic depth?” he asked; “I tell you, the security and stability of Pakistan and Afghanistan are intertwined. Together, we are strong but separately we are weak.”
Haqqani would soon be proven right, and in fact Pakistan continued to nurse a soft spot for his network in particular. Yet as the remainder of Afghanistan crumbled, the eastern Taliban hedged their bets. Abdul Kabir, along with Nangarhar governor Sadar Azam and the regional spymaster Tajmir Jawad, soon vacated Jalalabad and made east for Peshawar. Anwarul-Haq, Khalis’ son, was among the last to leave, accompanying bin Laden as he escaped through the Tora Bora mountains. In their wake, the Arsala brothers re-entered Jalalabad with little difficulty.
The militias whom the United States contracted to hunt down bin Laden – led by Abdul Qadeer’s son Abdul Zahir, monarchist veteran Zaman Ghamsharik, and Jamiat commander Hazrat Ali – were bitter competitors, happier to take money for their pains than catch the prize; Ghamsharik, in particular, later gleefully admitted to having swindled everybody concerned. The result was that bin Laden escaped quite easily into northwest Pakistan. He and his second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri were accompanied on their journey by Hezb emir Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the only leader from the former Northern Front to reject the American invasion. In the next few years, American counterterrorism hunts in the region would target both Hekmatyar, whose party had strong local roots in the Afghan east, and bin Laden; in so doing they would provoke more local resistance than had originally existed.
Haqqani, too, was keeping his options open. Over the winter two of his former counterparts from the Taliban cabinet – Arsala Rahmani Daulat, a former prime minister, and finance minister Abdul-Sattar Siddiqi – had successfully lain down their arms, and tried to obtain an amnesty for their colleagues. Haqqani sent his younger brother Ibrahim Umari to negotiate a conditional surrender. Karzai was receptive, and offered Ibrahim a governor’s position to show his goodwill. Yet American intransigence against negotiations was exploited in spring 2002 by the Haqqanis’ leading tribal rival, Badshah Khan Zadran, who wanted to rule the region himself. Ibrahim was first nearly killed by airstrike, then imprisoned and beaten. The torrent of American bombardment in Loya Paktia uprooted thousands and permanently alienated the Haqqanis.
There was more resistance from Islamists from Uzbekistan led by Tohir Yuldushev, whose military commander Jumabai had been slain at Kunduz but who themselves were largely located in the southeast. Along with the Haqqanis and another old mujahideen-turned-Taliban family in the region, the Mansurs, they escaped the American dragnet through the mountains in spring 2002. The escape was led by Taliban minister Abdul Latif Mansur and in particular his daring nephew Saif ur Rahman, who skilfully surrounded and ambushed an American commando unit that had been airlifted into a valley. Bringing back shades of the war against the Soviets, this relatively marginal battlefield boosted the Taliban’s morale enormously. Within a year of their ignominious ouster, the ousted Emirate had reorganised, returning as insurgents to the battlefield.
Having taken only a few months and with minimal American casualties – though several thousand Taliban fighters and perhaps as many as eight thousand civilians – the invasion of Afghanistan was viewed for some years afterward as the simplest of wars. In fact the United States, fired by a simplistic view of good versus evil that made little allowance for the context of the Afghan battlefield, repeatedly missed opportunities to cement their battlefield victory with a political compromise. Afghanistan would often be viewed in terms of the United States against Al-Qaeda; Afghan factions, when mentioned, were too often seen as spectators.
Instead Afghanistan would become the United States’ longest war in history as the Taliban insurgency – on-and-off backed by Pakistan and Iran, but certainly to nowhere near the extent that their opponents were by the United States and its international coalition – mounted an astounding insurgency. This ended twenty years later with a remarkably swift conquest of Afghanistan. The first American war of the twenty first century would become its longest, and among the most disastrous in its history.
Sources and further reading
Giustozzi, A. (2007). Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Hurst Publishers.
Giustozzi, A. (2009). Empires of Mud: Wars and warlords in Afghanistan. Columbia University Press.
Gopal, A. (2014). No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the war through Afghan eyes. Metropolitan Books.
Halton, P. (2021). Blood Washing Blood: Afghanistan’s hundred-year war. Dundurn Press.
Malkasian, C. (2021) The American War in Afghanistan: A history. Oxford University Press.