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The Right Enemy

Author: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
June 1, 2014
Commentary

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Has any foreigner spent as long a time in Afghanistan over the past decade as the New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall? She arrived in the fall of 2001, as the Taliban were falling, and did not leave until 2011. She then returned for nine months in 2012 and 2013 to write this book. Her connections to the country stretch back even further: Her father, a British television journalist, reported from Afghanistan in the 1980s and later set up a charity for disabled Afghans. Gall herself had traveled to the country in the 1990s while the Taliban were coming to power.

She did not limit her travels to Afghanistan: In the past decade she regularly visited Pakistan, which, as she argues convincingly in her powerful new book, The Wrong Enemy, is deeply enmeshed in supporting the Haqqani Network, the Taliban, and other insurgents making life miserable for the people of Afghanistan.

Long years spent reporting on both sides of the Durand Line exposed Gall to considerable danger. In February 2006, she was at a police station in Kandahar when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate. Later that year, she was beaten up by Pakistani intelligence agents in Quetta because they didn't want her reporting on the links between the army's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Islamist militants.

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