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Intimate War [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Mike Martin

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18. April 2014
An Intimate War tells the story of the last thirty-four years of conflict in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as seen through the eyes of the Helmandis. In the West, this period is often defined through different lenses - the Soviet intervention, the civil war, the Taliban, and the post-2001 nation-building era. Yet, as experienced by local inhabitants, the Helmand conflict is a perennial one, involving the same individuals, families and groups, and driven by the same arguments over land, water and power. This book - based on both military and research experience in Helmand and 150 interviews in Pashto - offers a very different view of Helmand from those in the media. It demonstrates how outsiders have most often misunderstood the ongoing struggle in Helmand and how, in doing so, they have exacerbated the conflict, perpetuated it and made it more violent - precisely the opposite of what was intended when their interventions were launched. Mike Martin's oral history of Helmand underscores the absolute imperative of understanding the highly local, personal, and non-ideological nature of internal conflict in much of the 'third' world.

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'Essential reading for any serious student of Britain's Fourth Afghan War. A deeply researched, clearly argued, reminder of how the West's road to Helmand was paved with good intentions, and that there, as elsewhere in Afghanistan, the West failed to understand the war it was fighting, causing them to coerce rather than to co-opt.' - Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles KCMG LVO, UK Ambassador to Afghanistan 2007-9, and UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan 2009-10 'An Intimate War is, quite simply, the book on Helmand. I sincerely wish it had been available to me when I was ISAF Commander in Afghanistan. Military, diplomatic and development professionals involved in Afghanistan - and elsewhere, for that matter - read this and take note.' - General Sir David Richards GCB, CBE, DSO, ADC Gen; Commander of International Forces in Afghanistan, 2006-7 and UK Chief of the Defence Staff, 2010-13 'The proverbial complexity of civil wars is typically discounted as irrelevant or misinterpreted through orientalising. Mike Martin begs to differ: in this rich and fascinating account of thirty-four years of war in the Afghan province of Helmand, he explains how and why the private and local logics of the conflict interact with, and often subvert, the public, national, and international narratives. He exposes the failure of Western bureaucratic institutions to grasp this reality and dissects both the causes and consequences of their failure. This outstanding book is a must-read for those interested in understanding contemporary conflict.' - Stathis Kalyvas, Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science, Yale University, and author of The Logic of Violence in Civil War

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Mike Martin is a Pashto speaker who spent almost two years in Helmand as a British army officer. During that time, he pioneered and developed the British military's human terrain and cultural capability - a means to understanding the Helmandi population and influence it. He also worked as an advisor to several senior commanding officers in Helmand. His previous publications include A Brief History of Helmand, required reading for British commanders and intelligence staff deploying to the province. He holds a doctorate in War Studies from King's College London.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  3 Rezensionen
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Military reform - the lessons of recent campaigns 18. Juli 2014
Von Mr ACP Kennett - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
This impressive book began as an academic thesis and is brought to life by relevant and diverse contemporary operational experience; the text is amplified in quality by the perspicacity of a considerable intellect. Mike Martin demonstrates that the success of any military intervention or assistance operation, is only as effective as the proponents’ understanding of the operating environment. That understanding was boasted by many in Afghanistan, including one former NATO commander, who ironically opines how useful this book would have been to him had it been written during his tenure of command. Men like Mike were present throughout; if only they had been afforded a voice.
It is the product of considerable study and demonstrates precisely the appetite for learning and adaptation essential to keep armed forces relevant in such difficult times. It should have been encouraged, nurtured and I am proud of the small part I played in helping Mike obtain sponsorship for his thesis and supporting him in getting the book published despite MOD attempts at censorship.
Planning for British military involvement in Afghanistan was blighted by inadequate or confused policy direction and a complete lack of understanding of the Afghan context, particularly in the South of the country. This is an institutional malaise, despite protestations to the contrary. The army has shown an alacrity to learn tactical lessons that has not been replicated at the operational or strategic levels. The aspiration to develop better levels of operational level understanding has not been supported by the right attitudes and emphasis in policy or execution.
Senior officers have boasted operational level understanding and vied for the strategic high ground. In reality the quality of British military strategic thought and advice has been poor, and yet those involved in Iraq (as Chilcott will soon report) and Afghanistan would have us believe they made not a single mistake in either theatre.
The book signals an opportunity for a change in attitudes and mind-set. Reform would start with a willingness to admit mistakes and embrace the need for different ways of doing MOD and staff headquarters’ business, instead of the prevailing cuts-driven mentality that protects heritage at the expense of capability. It needs leadership from senior officers of a different pedigree: people born of a much better-informed selection process, reinforced by appropriate education programmes at key stages of long careers and training that equips people for their specialist jobs. The army deserves open-minded innovators prepared to challenge the dogma of establishment.
The army must learn better to distinguish between cuts and reform, and wake up to the need for further change, starting amongst its senior leaders. All you who serve: beware charm that masks hubris; regimental loyalty that breeds group-think and cronyism that passes for career management.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Meanwhile in Helmand... 11. September 2014
Von Daniel Norfolk - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Martin’s book sets the bar for research on Afghanistan and contemporary conflict more generally – a must-read for scholars and practitioners in both contexts. With unprecedented access to wartime Helmand’s ground reality and unsurpassed attention to detail, An Intimate War offers the most comprehensive account of the micro-level social, cultural, political, and economic processes at play in the Afghan arena to date.

Combining a soldier’s keen eye for strategy with a scholar’s cogent objectivity (and rare linguistic abilities), Martin meticulously maps the complex contours of Helmand’s conflict over three decades. Equipped with rich genealogical and biographical appendices, the reader is able to follow the threads that weave together this account – which will help replace the worn narratives that have been pulled from beneath the complacent conventions of many observers (and, as Martin warns us, participants).

It is the diversity of Martin’s sources, his proximity to them, and the way in which he allows them to interact that set this narrative, or collection of narratives, apart. Generational feuds and daily quarrels mingle with dizzying alliances and incoherent external influence to render Helmand’s contemporary history impenetrable to most outsiders. Martin has patiently sifted through anecdotes, testimony, and eye-witness accounts, and puts the pieces of the puzzle together in this well-crafted and very readable book.
5.0 von 5 Sternen A must read for would-be interventionists, whether you think you 'get it' or not. 4. Juli 2014
Von Karl - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
"It doesn't matter who you work with in Helmand, they are all the same tribe anyways."
I was told this by an American official in Kandahar in 2011. It was not the time or the place to argue the point that this was a gross mischaracterization of reality and likely to feed into a disastrous engagement with local political divides and factions whose multiple inter- and intra-community conflicts dominate the local political choices made. My perspective at the time was also more macro, not detailed enough to present a convincing argument about Helmand specifically other than in quite general terms.

Mike Martin does not suffer from that short-coming. His multiple rotations as a British officer and subsequent return as a researcher has allowed him to build a comprehensive narrative around the power politics of Helmand from the pre-Mujahideen days until now. Martin's account relies largely on interviews with local power brokers but he has treated the data well, pointing out possible contradictions, instances of possible manipulation, and by seeking confirmation of claims made. The result is a whirling dance in and out of alliances and allegiances that at times is at risk of becoming confusing as the names and locations pile up. Martin however manages to keep the reader on track by back-referencing who is who and playing what role at what time.

This book, and similar accounts of the local reality, should be required reading for development practitioners, military personnel, diplomats, politicians, journalists, and especially the policy wonks who continuously pump out 'analysis' based mainly on six day helicopter and powerpoint tours of [insert area of choice here]. It is however perhaps the most useful for those who think that they already 'get it' and who earnestly wants to understand enough to at least have a glimmer of hope to successfully reach intended outcomes. The lasting impression is that no matter how complex you thought local politics were, they can still find a way to surprise you.

'An intimate war' interprets Helmandi history and the narratives of local power holders through a perspective on violence and civil war largely inspired by S. Kalyvas. It emphasizes the agency of the local groups over the ambitions of the ideological elites at the center or in other countries. I find that I personally agree with most of the dynamics-analysis though I would perhaps ascribe more understanding to the ability of external actors to use local conflicts to gather social mass through mobilization. With this said, Martin's analysis provides an excellent account of the Helmandi socio-political conditions into which foreign and domestic interventions have gone forth so many times before with very little change in the local dynamics apart from patronage structures and what ideological flavor lends its name to local conflicts at a particular time.

In the end, Martin's work aligns perfectly with my own analysis of social mobilization in Afghanistan (and Somalia incidentally) and reinforces what I call the 'ORSDINTI principle'. This is a tongue in cheek memory rule for would-be interventionists to remember that in relation to local outcomes, Our Ranch Salad Dressing Is Not That Important. There are many policy makers and wonks who would do well to remember that. Hopefully, Martin's book can drive that point home. It certainly has the capacity to if the audience is paying attention.
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