Anatol Lieven

Anatol Lieven is a professor in the war studies department of King’s College London and a senior fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. His previous book, co-authored with John Hulsman, is Ethical Realism: A Vision for America’s Role in the World. He is currently researching a book on Pakistan.

Recent Articles

The Pakistan Puzzle

Recent tomes on Pakistan overlook ordinary citizens' conflicting motivations, says our man on the ground.

I am writing from Karachi, with a hangover. The Pakistani elites, I can report, are still partying, though they may be partying on the slopes of a volcano. But, like the writer Tariq Ali, I do not believe that the volcano is as close to eruption as many excitable Western and even Pakistani commentators predict. This is a surprisingly tough and resilient state and society. The spread of Taliban control remains restricted to only some of the Pashtun areas of the country. Those Taliban regions account for less than 5 percent of Pakistan's total population, and unlike the rest of the country, they have old traditions of religiously inspired revolt. Elsewhere, the real threat is not active, mass support for the Taliban but rather bitter opposition to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and the whole U.S. "war on terror." Both the elites and general public see the Afghan Taliban as fighting a legitimate jihad against the United States. The Pakistani Taliban, as their allies and...

The Other War

The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan after the Taliban by Sarah Chayes (Penguin Press, 386 pages, $25.95) Defeat in Iraq will be bad, but defeat in Afghanistan would be a catastrophe. If U.S. and NATO troops eventually leave and the Taliban return to power, it would mark the utter failure of American strategy in the country where the "war on terror" all began. Outright defeat in Afghanistan still seems a long way off. But as Sarah Chayes' beautifully written, highly illuminating memoir makes clear, Afghanistan is at best "drifting sideways." Hamid Karzai remains little more than the mayor of Kabul, most of his government institutions are mere facades for looting, and the Taliban are gaining wider control of the Pashtun areas of the South and East. In October, the British army negotiated an agreement with local tribal leaders in northern Helmand province whereby the British withdrew from a district in return for a promise that the tribes themselves would control the Taliban --...

Tweedledum, Tweedledee

In the October print issue of the Prospect , James Lindsay reviewed two new books offering alternative progressive foreign policy visions -- Michael Lind's The American Way of Strategy and Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman's Ethical Realism . Today, those books' authors reply to Lindsay. Lieven and Hulsman's response is below. See Lind's response here . --- Having indignantly denied that establishment Democrats like himself are “playing Tweedledee to the Republicans' Tweedledum on foreign policy,” James Lindsay goes on to play the part of Tweedledee to perfection. After his brief and pro forma denunciation of the Bush administration's “many missteps,” he condemns our proposed alternatives as no better, without saying in detail what they are. Much more importantly, neither in this review nor in any of the rest of his published work that we can find does Lindsay say in detail how his own future strategy would differ from that of Bush. If we remember rightly, it isn't recorded in the...

Realism and Reality

The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World's Government in the 21st Century by Michael Mandelbaum ( Public Affairs, 320 pages, $26.00 ) Michael Mandelbaum's latest book is a superficial symptom of a grave, even potentially deadly disease: the inability of the overwhelming majority of the U. S. establishment to contemplate a limited scaling down of America's struggle for world dominance, even when the maximalist version of that goal has been clearly shown to be unsustainable. The neoconservatives represent only an extreme and crude version of this ambition. To a greater or lesser extent, it is shared by the leaders of both political parties and by a large majority of American politicians, soldiers, bureaucrats, and Washington policy intellectuals. Unlike the neoconservatives, Mandelbaum has always been thought to belong to the realist tradition. Indeed, while in the Democrat camp in the 1990s he clashed bitterly with the Clinton administration's professed commitment to nation...

Return to Realism

The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course by Richard N. Haass ( Public Affairs, 242 pages, $25.00 ) Gulliver Unbound: America's Imperial Temptation and the War in Iraq by Stanley Hoffmann with Frederic Bozo ( Rowman and Littlefield, 168 pages, $19.95 ) Some books derive their significance not only from what they say but also from who says it. Such is the case with new book by Richard Haass, director of policy planning at the State Department from 2001 to 2003, who now calmly but comprehensively trashes the strategy and record of the administration in which he served. Concerning the Iraq War, planned and executed while he was in office, Haass writes, “What matters in business as well as in foreign policy is the balance or relationship between costs and benefits. It is this assessment that leads to the judgment that the war against Iraq was unwarranted. The direct costs to the United States … were and are simply too high, given what was at stake.” Those of us who opposed...