Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond

In This Review

Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond

By Abdulkader H. Sinno
Cornell University Press, 2007
352 pp. $39.95
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Sinno's core thesis is that students of strategy should pay more attention to organization theory, and in this the author is surely right. In particular, Sinno demonstrates that the way radical groups structure themselves -- for example, their degree of centralization or their ability to operate out of a safe haven -- will have a lot to do with their success, irrespective of their broader political appeal. Moreover, structures that work well when the main aim is survival may not serve the groups so well when they have a chance to go on the offensive. After laying out these ideas, Sinno then applies them by looking at the competing parties in Afghanistan through the various stages of the conflict there over the past three decades, taking a critical look at what he considers to be the squandered opportunities of the Bush administration. Ultimately, he tries to do too much in one book. His line of argument at times gets overly complex, and a book intended to last should not have gone so much into contemporary policy issues. But he knows a lot about Afghanistan and offers significant insights about organizations and strategy on which others will want to build.