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Naval Postgraduate School Professor Praises Fitzgerald and Gould

August 10th, 2010

“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

At a critical turning point in the war in Afghanistan, Naval Postgraduate School Professor of National Security Affairs Thomas Johnson has been tapped to be the senior political aide and counterinsurgency adviser to Canadian Brig. Gen. Jonathan Vance, Canadian commander of Task Force Kandahar — ground zero for the key summer campaign against the Taliban.

“General Vance contacted me shortly after he was selected by Ottawa in early June to return to Afghanistan as Commander of Canadian Forces replacing Brig. Gen. Daniel Ménard who was relieved of command, and asked if I would be willing to take on this assignment through the completion of his deployment,” Johnson said before a week-long trip due to land him in Afghanistan Aug. 10. “There’s no question this is a critical time, and the Canadian effort is central to the success of U.S. and NATO efforts in the country.”

As Johnson finalized his trip preparations, President Obama affirmed the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq and Congress voted an additional $33 billion in war funding for Afghanistan, where July’s casualties reached an all-time high. Johnson’s new advisory role also comes in the wake of the top U.S. military commander’s replacement; a massive leak of classified war documents; the Netherlands becoming the first NATO country to end its combat mission in the country; the president of Pakistan stating the international community is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people; and a mutilated Afghan girl on the cover of Time magazine with the headline, “What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan.”

Time’s question refers to the U.S., but guidance about the answer to precisely that question for Canada is what Johnson has been tapped to provide our coalition partners north of the border. Read more



View our timelineof Afghan History in the GlobalPost’s series, “Life, Death and the Taliban.”


Listen to our interview on the Jeff Rense program from  June 30, 2009

Watch our interview on GRITtv with Laura Flanders from June 25, 2009.

Listen to our interview on KPFK 90.7 Morning Show  with Sonali Kolhatkar from  May 15, 2009   Audio Stream | Podcast | Mp3 Download
Our presentation at Cambridge Forum is now available on the WGBH Forum Network at the link referenced below. We encourage you to send this information to any other organizations or individuals that might be interested in this content. Please feel free to include a link on your website directing people to lecture webcasts on the WGBH Forum Network

Watch our interview with Back Pages Books on   C-SPAN Book TV Take a look at  our presentation on  youtube from March 16, 2009  hosted by The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.

Obama’s War: US Involvement in Afghanistan, Past, Present & Future

Democracy Now Feb 23, 2009

NightSide with Dan Rea WBZ/CBS 1030 AM Jan 23, 2009
Your Call Radio KALW San Francisco Feb 2, 2009
Hemispheres KGNU Denver Feb 10, 2009
REVIEWS“In Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould outline striking historical accounts of an ancient nation, its borders shaped through colonial wars and conflicts between empires. Their style is reflective yet factual, delving into Afghanistan’s key role in central conflicts that have defined global politics in the past century, from the Cold War to the “war on terror.” – Stefan Christoff

“Invisible History” shows us that we now have an opportunity to transform ourselves through an honest confrontation with our past: a confrontation that would lead us to reorient our national policies around the tabernacle of our professed moral values. If we choose to ignore this opportunity, and once again turn a blind eye to history and its lessons, then we may find ourselves in grave danger, not just from the threat of terrorist attacks, but from falling victim to the same folly that has toppled empires throughout history. Afghanistan’s Untold StorySunday 31 May 2009
by Ryan Croken, t r u t h o u t  Book Review
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Book Review from Newshoggers

June 2nd, 2009 Originally from BeltwayBlips. The Web’s most popular political news, videos, and blogs.

NEWSHOGGERS Politics, Foreign Affairs, Opinion and the News Less Travelled Served up Daily

May 30, 2009
Weekend Book Review – Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story

Asia Times BOOK REVIEW  May 2, 2009
Behind the Afghan propaganda
Reviewed by Anthony Fenton

Nearly 30 years after their first foray into the land-locked buffer state, married couple and journalist-historians Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould could not have chosen a more appropriate time to publish their comprehensive Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story.

Mideast Book Review 5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling history reading, April 13, 2009 There’s more to Afghanistan’s history than the rise and fall of the Taliban. “Afghanistan’s Untold Story” is a look at the oft forgotten long and storied history of the Afghani people. Drawing the tale from thousands of years ago in ancient times to what Afghanistan was like before the infamous wars with the Soviet Union, it tells the story from the Afghani perspective, leading to a fascinating story of a war-torn people. “Afghanistan’s Untold Story” is enthralling history reading, a great pick indeed.
The Philadelphia Bulletin “Unhinged by war for nearly 30 years, Afghanistan’s tragic story and how it got where it is, teetering on the brink of collapse as a nation-state, is described by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould in Invisible History – Afghanistan’s Untold Story. The book’s approach is comprehensive, combining the sweep of interpretative, historical survey with a current-affairs analysis in the latter chapters, which guides the reader to understand the issues that have plagued Afghanistan for the past two centuries. . . . Afghanistan’s Untold Story raises many questions – not all readily answerable – about America’s role in Afghanistan, and by extension, in other troubled parts of the world.” -Sam Oglesby
The Middle East Journal – January, 2009 “Utilizing 20 years of experience of researching and reporting on Afghanistan, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould seek to clarify and contextualize the current situation in conflict-torn Afghanistan with this comprehensive history. The material covers events starting in ancient antiquity, but puts a heavy emphasis on the second half of the 20th century through the end of 2007. The work concludes with analysis and strategy recommendations for the incoming American President and is supplemented by an appendix of historical maps.”

The Dallas Morning News January 4, 2009

‘Invisible History’ by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould and ‘A World of Trouble’ by Patrick Tyler: New books focus on U.S. foibles in the Mideast  By EMILY L. HAUSER

….Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould’s Invisible History tells a similar tale of misstep compounding misstep, but from the vantage point of the people suffering most of the consequences.
The fog obscuring U.S. policies in Afghanistan is thicker than elsewhere in the region. The authors cut through it meticulously, exposing layers of cultural arrogance and myopia. They demonstrate with painful clarity how these traits helped push our would-be ally into the Soviet orbit, causing us to arm and promote the violent extremists we’re fighting today. When confronted with al-Qaeda’s nihilism on 9/11, our response was “wildly exaggerated, dangerously reckless, and … ineffective.”
Invisible History argues that these blunders stem in no small part from a fundamental misunderstanding of Afghanistan’s central role in the region, especially the fact that “today’s Afghanistan is more a creation of Washington, Islamabad and London than it is of Kabul.” The next president must realize that “achieving anything resembling a real victory” will require a fundamental reboot of American policy, “to address the needs of the Afghan people, not the people in Washington,” the authors say.
Indeed, Tyler’s blunt assessment of the Carter administration could serve as the précis for both volumes: “The region was simply larger and more complex than Americans had realized.”
Obama will soon take on a tough job at one of the toughest times in American history. The turn of the next 50 years may depend on how closely he heeds the warnings found in these two fine books.

Publishers Weekly (starred review) November 3, 2008

Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

Journalists Fitzgerald and Gould do yeoman’s labor in clearing the fog and laying bare American failures in Afghanistan in this deeply researched, cogently argued and enormously important book. The authors demonstrate how closely American actions are tied to past miscalculations-and how U.S. policy has placed Afghans and Americans in grave danger. Long at cultural crossroads, Afghanistan’s location poised the country to serve as “a fragile buffer” between rival empires. Great Britain’s 1947 creation of an arbitrary and indefensible border between Afghanistan and the newly minted Pakistan “from the Afghan point of view… has always been the problem,” but particularly after 9/11 American policymakers have paid scant attention to the concerns of Afghans, preferring to shoehorn an imagined Afghanistan into U.S. power paradigms. “The United States is in a fight for its life, not because of [9/11]… but because of the way America responded…. That response was at once wildly exaggerated, dangerously reckless, and… ineffective,” the authors argue, calling on the incoming president to make radical changes. “Osama is not beating the United States…. The United States is beating itself, and beating itself badly.” (Jan.)

Kirkus Reviews October 15, 2008

Seasoned journalists Fitzgerald and Gould-co-producers of the 1981 PBS documentary Afghanistan Between Three Worlds – deliver a probing history of the country and a critical evaluation of American involvement in recent decades. The authors had just finished a documentary in late 1979 on SALT II (Arms Race and the Economy) when Russia invaded the seemingly insignificant country of Afghanistan. In this densely researched work, they study the ancient ethnic makeup of the country, its fledgling attempts at democracy and the catastrophic rise of the Taliban, introduced by Pakistan refugee groups and funded by the Saudis. As the “meeting place of four cultural zones,” Afghanistan has constantly been overrun by invaders eager to get somewhere else, including Alexander the Great, early Arab armies that converted the country to Islam, Genghis Khan, and the mid-19th century invasion by the British, which sowed the seeds of destabilizing colonial politics that would wreak havoc until the present day. The country lived in perpetual fear of Russian invasion of its northern territories, and it became a natural base for Cold War confrontation. Internally, a conservative, traditional society in which Islam played a pious rather than political role was being radically transformed by the 1970s, “under the influence of outside religious and intellectual forces.” Most chilling to read is the American government’s hot-cold manipulation of the region for its own purposes. As the situation devolved into “a sea of drugs, covert operations, Islamic revolutionaries, and Maoist cadres,” and U.S. ambassador Adolph Dubs was murdered in February 1979, an aggressive anti-Soviet stance was set in play from Brzezinski to Reagan, and the entrenchment of Islamic extremism was assured. The authors ably demystify Afghan efforts in the wake of 9/11, delineating its destroyed culture and offering a cogent plan for the next American president. A fresh perspective on a little-understood nation.


“Invisible History Afghanistan’s Untold Story is a defining work of great wisdom and depth in which the authors get to the bottom of the cauldron that is afghanistan. We cannot fully understand today’s afghanistan without reading this insightful book.   Afghanistan was the first war in the US war on terror. Understanding Afghanistan is the key to the current war. You could not start at a better place than this book.To understand why eight years later it is still being fought, Invisible History Afghanistan’s Untold Story is a must read.”

-Ahmed Rashid-Author of the No. 1 New York Times best seller Taliban. His current book is the highly acclaimed Descent into Chaos

Invisible History, Afghanistan’s Untold Story is a much-needed corrective to five decades of biased journalistic and academic writing about Afghanistan that has covered up the destructive and self-defeating U.S. role there. Backed by prodigious research, it shows that successive U.S. administrations deserve much of the blame for the rise of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and that the increasingly unpopular American military presence in Afghanistan today is likely to prove unsustainable.”

-Selig S. Harrison-Author of Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal and former South Asia Bureau Chief of The Washington Post–

“A serious, sobering study of America’s end-of-century adventure in Afghanistan, Invisible History, Afghanistan’s Untold Story illuminates a critical point of view rarely discussed by our media. The results of this willful ignorance have been disastrous to our national well-being.”

-Oliver Stone-

Invisible History Afghanistan’s Untold Story is a phenomenal compendium of research and critical analysis of the complex dynamics of the Cold War that lead to the death of my home country Afghanistan — a nation as old as history itself. For Afghanistan the aftermath of the Cold War resulted in large scale genocide of more than 2 million civilians, 5 million war victims, 2 million handicapped and scores of internally displaced Afghan people.

Invisible History is filled with ground breaking analysis not only for those interested in the politics of the Cold War and Afghanistan but also the larger historical context necessary to grasp the immensity of this tragedy. It will stand as a 21st century guide not only to what was lost in the destruction of Afghanistan but what can still be done to reconstruct a future where all Afghans, women and men can live in the peace and plenty they deserve. I commend Paul and Liz for their dedication, courage and professionalism in treading in areas where no soul has dared venture before and in unraveling the complex dynamics of the Cold War by combining it with the story of Afghanistan.”

Sima Wali-Afghan human rights expert, delegate to the Afghan peace talks, Bonn, Germany, President of Refugee Women in Development

“From the dawn of the Cold War onward, generations of conservative strategists have eyed Afghanistan as a launching pad first for the subversion of the Soviet Union and then to checkmate Russia in central Asia. To that end, as Gould and Fitzgerald show, since the 1950s the CIA has played games with both reactionary, feudal landlords and wild-eyed Muslim fundamentalists. In their exhaustively documented book, Gould and Fitzgerald reveal how that sort of gamesmanship played havoc with a battered nation of twenty-five million souls – helping to spawn, in the process, the virulent strain of violent Islamism that reaches far beyond the remote and landlocked territory of that war-torn country.”

-Robert Dreyfuss-Author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam

“For those who do not fear being discomforted by facts and can bravely weaned themselves away from the daily dosage of distraction and irrelevancy poured forth by the corporate mainstream mass media, the team of Gould and Fitzgerald offer an engaging overview of Afghanistan and its under-appreciated role in history — both ancient and recent. To prevent repeating history, we must learn from it and there is no better starting place than the Afghanistan laid bare in Invisible History Afghanistan’s Untold Story.”

Jim Marrs-New Yorks Times Best Selling author of Rule By Secrecy and Crossfire:The Plot That Killed Kennedy and journalist

“In their brilliant new book, Invisible History Afghanistan’s Untold Story, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould reveal the reality of the failure of American foreign policy in Afghanistan since the end of the Cold War while exposing the extraordinary propaganda campaigns mounted to obscure the truth from the public.

It’s a must read for a anyone interested in the reasons behind why we are in a global economic, social and political mess we find ourselves today. It also establishes the historical record that provide basis for judging the course of future developments.”

Samira Goetschel-Journalist, award winning documentary filmmaker and director of Our Own Private Bin Laden

“In the 1980’s most western journalists assigned to Afghanistan peered in from the Khyber Pass. They limited their reporting to interviews with Afghan warlords, religious fundamentalists and U.S. government officials. But as early 1981 Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould ventured beyond, into the heart of the country. They brought back an exclusive story of a jihad against the Soviet Union secretly funded by the U.S. They warned of the dangers of the mounting conflict.

Fitzgerald and Gould’s interest in Afghan affairs continued, culminating in their book, Invisible History Afghanistan’s Untold Story in which the authors have brought together 30 years of investigative journalism, research and perceptive observation. Clockwork Afghanistan covers the same sweep of Afghan/US history as my film, Afghan Women: A History of Struggle. So I understand and admire the exhaustive analysis of media reports; scholarly works; out-of-print books; government, military and classified documents from Afghanistan, US, Pakistan and Russia, that went into producing this most comprehensive and informative account of U.S. foreign policy in Central Asia.

It’s a must-read for anyone who has ever questioned the main- stream media’s version of world events and wants to know why the U.S. is fighting in Afghanistan. It should be read by everyone wanting to learn the truth about the destruction of Afghanistan and the desperation of its people, especially Afghan women. Invisible History is particularly relevant today when the U.S. appears to be expanding its “war on terror” in Afghanistan.”

Kathleen Foster-Photojournalist, documentary filmmaker and director of Afghan Women: A History of Struggle

“In this penetrating inquiry, based on careful study of an intricate web of political, cultural, and historical factors that lie in the immediate background, and enriched by unique direct observation at crucial moments, Fitzgerald and Gould tell “the real story of how they came to be there and what we can expect next.” With skill and care, they unravel the roots of Afghanistan’s terrible travail, and lay bare its awesome significance for the world at large. Invocation of Armageddon is no mere literary device. The threat is all too real as the political leadership of a superpower with few external constraints charges forward on a course that is fraught with peril. Apostles Diary and the accompanying film serve as a critically important contribution to our understanding of some of the most dramatic and significant developments of current history.”

-Noam Chomsky-

“A revealing and commanding exposé of the imperial history, official skulduggery, and media manipulation that have enveloped Afghanistan, a story that Americans need to know.”

—Michael Parenti-Author of Contrary Notions and Against Empire


Rethinking Afghanistan

by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

Middle East Institute special edition of Viewpoints Dec 2, 2009

What are We Fighting for in Afghanistan?

-Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, Counterpunch Dec 3, 2009

Thinking Like an Afghan Counterpunch


Afghanistan, a New Beginning Z Net

By Paul Fitzgerald  and Elizabeth Gould/ April 6, 2009
Source: Informed Comment  Paul Fitzgerald’s ZSpacePage

April 2, 2009 Informed Comment.

The Man Who Shouldn’t be King (of Afghanistan) Counterpunch

By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould    |  February 24, 2009

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