America's war in Afghanistan is the longest war the U.S. has ever fought. Beginning a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the initial mission was to remove the Taliban from power and destroy the al-Qaida terror network. Now, nearly 17 years later, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll points out that the war's goals have changed.
A Marine Sergeant and a war correspondent reflect on the physical and psychic cost of war. Marine sergeant TJ Brennan was hit by the blast from a rocket-propelled grenade and suffered traumatic brain injury. Photographer Finbarr O'Reilly was embedded with Brennan's unit in Afghanistan.
George Crile is a veteran producer for CBS's 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II. He's the author of the new book, Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History. It's about the CIA's secret war in Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s, and its support of the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviet Union. Ammunitions and weapons were smuggled across the border and at one point over 300,000 fundamentalist Afghan warriors carried weapons provided by the CIA.
Charlie Wilson is a retired congressman and the subject of the book Charlie Wilson's War. It's about the secret CIA operation arming the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviet Union. Wilson left office in 1996 after 24 years in office. He is now a lobbyist and one of his main clients is Pakistan.
Journalist Alissa J. Rubin has spent most of the past 10 years reporting on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On Thursday's Fresh Air, Rubin talks about the growing corruption and violence in Afghanistan, from which 33,000 U.S. troops are expected to withdraw by the summer of 2012.
New York Times foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins has just returned from Afghanistan. He discusses what he's seen since the recent troop surge and explains the challenges the U.S. faces in trying to drive the Taliban out of the country.
Rep. Charlie Wilson died this week at 76. Fresh Air remembers the brash Texas Democrat, who was best known for secretly arming the Afghan mujahedeen against Soviet troops in the 1980s. In 2003, both Wilson and George Crile, author of Charlie Wilson's War, spoke to Fresh Air about the covert operation.
Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid discusses the challenges facing President Obama in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His most recent book is Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.
Sarah Chayes has been living and working in Afghanistan since she covered the fall of the Taliban government for NPR. She joins Fresh Air to explain how the hard-line religious movement is using both fear and persuasion as it works to once again expand its power in Afghanistan.
After former NPR reporter Sarah Chayes reported on the fall of the Taliban in 2001, she decided to stay in Afghanistan as the country was being rebuilt. In 2005, she established the Arghand Cooperative, a business that sells local products for use in perfumes, soaps and food. The author of The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban, Chayes wrote about her experiences starting the cooperative and selling beauty products in December's Atlantic Monthly.