The Long Way Back: Afghanistan's Quest for Peace

Overview

Afghanistan is far from stable: Wounds left by thirty years of war are still raw. Terrorism is a daily menace. Roads are littered with Taliban bombs. Targeted killings and international impatience are fueling Afghan anxieties. Regional warlords, drug barons, and corrupt government officials all flout the conceit of a functional and unified nation. Pakistan’s aggressive influence is a real and constant presence. Yet Chris Alexander, former deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan and former Canadian...

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The Long Way Back: Afghanistan's Quest for Peace

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Overview

Afghanistan is far from stable: Wounds left by thirty years of war are still raw. Terrorism is a daily menace. Roads are littered with Taliban bombs. Targeted killings and international impatience are fueling Afghan anxieties. Regional warlords, drug barons, and corrupt government officials all flout the conceit of a functional and unified nation. Pakistan’s aggressive influence is a real and constant presence. Yet Chris Alexander, former deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan and former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan, sees something different: a peace that is not only theoretically possible but practically achievable given the right conditions.

The Long Way Back tells the story of the historic accomplishments and bitter disappointments encountered on the road to political stability. But the book is much more than a firsthand account of recent events: it is a clear-eyed take on what has been achieved, the triumphs and failings of Afghans and foreigners alike, and why the country is still mired in conflict. With his direct access to and experience with the country’s leaders, the international players, and ordinary Afghan citizens, Chris Alexander reveals a portrait of Afghanistan like none other and makes an insightful and bold argument for what it will take to attain a lasting peace.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Alexander, a former ambassador and U.N. deputy who served in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2009, delivers a remarkably thoughtful portrait of the ravaged country, chronicling its search for political stability in the years after the American invasion. He begins by tracing Afghanistan’s epic history to show how its current troubles reflect its tumultuous past. He describes the country’s initial euphoria at the rapid fall of the Taliban regime and Hamid Karzai’s inauguration, the period of its neglect when the world’s attention focused on the Iraq War, and the resurgence of the Taliban and the myriad other problems plaguing the country’s fragile stability. These include drug warlords, a “culture of payback and vengeance,” corrupt or incompetent government officials, Karzai’s growing distrust of foreign intervention, and most importantly, Pakistan’s duplicity in subsidizing al-Qaeda and other anti-Western mujahideen at the risk of its own security. Highlighting positive developments—government ministers who are true reformers, clerics providing a bulwark against extremists, Kabul reclaiming its mercantile history, a new road system, and a reviving economy—he urges other countries, such as the U.S. and his native Canada, not to give up advocating higher troop levels and drone attacks against sanctuaries in Pakistan. Evoking Afghanistan’s history, culture, architecture, peoples, and pastimes, he provides an insightful, firsthand look at a chaotic country. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
Alexander, a former UN deputy special representative in Afghanistan, offers his view of the pathway to a resolution in that nation. The author proposes a regional solution to the ongoing conflict, one in which both Afghanistan and Pakistan both become "subject to international supervision" as part of a settlement—a "Central Asian version of the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia." Alexander devotes significant attention to the source of the present conflict, Britain's 19th-century strategic "great game" against Russia, and Pakistan's adaption of the tradition to its own purposes through backing Afghanistan's Taliban and other surrogate terrorists. The components of a possible regional agreement are identified in Afghanistan's 2005-6 bilateral treaties with the U.S., UK, EU, China and Pakistan, and in the March 2009 opium interdiction program adopted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the very same day Obama announced his strategic review of Afghanistan policy. Whether such an agreement can be achieved, by way of the destruction of what Alexander calls the "shadow government" of Afghanistan inside Pakistan border provinces, without resulting in the outbreak of another full-scale war in the area or further aggravating relations between Pakistan and India, is questionable. In the meantime, the author is an enthusiastic advocate of the adoption of long-term visions along with benchmarks for their achievement in such areas as the management of the Afghan government's finances and the development of food exports through private enterprise. He is also a supporter of World Bank counterinsurgency investment through the "National Solidarity Programme" estimated to produce 20 percent per annum returns. A controversial account that provides much historical background, along with special insight into current developments.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062020376
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/8/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.28 (w) x 6.32 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Alexander is a diplomat and politician who served for eighteen years as an international public servant and Canadian foreign service officer. From 2005 to 2009 he was the UN deputy special representative in Afghanistan, helping to lead the largest UN political mission in the world. Alexander was also the Canadian ambassador to that country and a key contributor to the effort to stabilize and support post-Taliban Afghanistan. He returned to Canada in 2009 and is now the Conservative MP for Ajax-Pickering, where he lives, as well as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defense.

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Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae XI

Maps XXII

Preface: Sir Winters in Kabul xxvii

Introduction: Babur's Garden 3

Part 1 Treading Lightly

1 Price of Entry 15

2 Friend for a Season 26

3 Palace Rules 45

4 Secret Heart 52

5 Home Front 72

Part Two: Hanging Fire

6 Trampled Vintage 85

7 New Colonialists 110

8 Western Approaches 137

9 Inner Light 160

Part Three: Bolder Strokes

10 Talent's Table 183

11 Dance of War 204

12 Lost Arts 227

Conclusion: The Seventh Room 241

Acknowledgements 249

Bibliography 253

Index 259

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