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Power Struggle Over Afghanistan: An Inside Look at What Went Wrong--and What We Can Do to Repair the Damage

Overview

Based on the author’s own conversations with President Karzai and other Afghan politicians, as well as prominent international representatives, Power Struggle Over Afghanistan is a Norwegian diplomat’s account of his two years at the United Nations. Eide was President Karzai’s closest international interlocutor from March 2008-2010 and he interacted with him regularly during the most hectic periods. It was a time marred by widespread fraud, including the controversial presidential elections, and gross ...

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Power Struggle Over Afghanistan: An Inside Look at What Went Wrong--and What We Can Do to Repair the Damage

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Overview

Based on the author’s own conversations with President Karzai and other Afghan politicians, as well as prominent international representatives, Power Struggle Over Afghanistan is a Norwegian diplomat’s account of his two years at the United Nations. Eide was President Karzai’s closest international interlocutor from March 2008-2010 and he interacted with him regularly during the most hectic periods. It was a time marred by widespread fraud, including the controversial presidential elections, and gross international interference, much of which is still unknown to the general public.

Working closely with Karzai, Eide was inevitably caught up in the rivalries between the Afghani authorities and the international community, as well as in the tensions generated by the security situation. Eide speaks freely and honestly about the political gambles, the military reality, and the people he met. His story is a unique account of contemporary Afghanistan, and its critique of military and civilian operations in Afghanistan will without doubt prove controversial.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this timely memoir, Eide, a career diplomat in the Norwegian Foreign Service, reprises his tumultuous term as United Nations Special Representative to Afghanistan. Eide arrived in Kabul in 2008 convinced that only “a comprehensive approach... which could bring military and civilian efforts together” into a single strategy would bring peace to the troubled country. Despite his best efforts, Afghanistan saw scant progress during his tenure, and in his balanced postmortem, he tries to explain what went wrong. From the beginning, his mission was plagued by “turf-fighting in the UN,” local corruption, a “lack of aid coordination,” civilian casualties, and regional rivalries—especially between India and Pakistan. He reserves some of his harshest criticism for the Obama administration, arguing that from the start, Afghan President Hamid Karzai felt humiliated by Obama’s policy of keeping him “at arm’s length,” and Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, proved “unpopular among Afghans as well as the international community.” Worse was Obama’s 2009 troop surge that was accompanied by a withdrawal schedule, which Eide dismisses as “simplistic,” noting that “the insurgency certainly saw hope in Obama’s decisions.” While he claims to remain optimistic about Afghanistan, Eide warns that the international community must “demonstrate patience and not rush to the exit door.”Agent: Ida Berntsen, Cappelen Damm Agency. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
A former UN envoy to Afghanistan takes stock of his uneven, bracing two-year tour. As the special representative to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2010, veteran Norwegian ambassador Eide presided over a tumultuous time overseeing presidential elections, as well as a transitional era between American administrations. He calls his tour "the two most dramatic years since the fall of the Taliban in 2001," largely as the result of tension between Afghan authorities (and insurgents) and the international community. Preferred by President Karzai for his "mild-mannered" ways, Eide agreed with the president that more authority should be transferred to Afghan institutions in the administering of humanitarian and development aid. The UN mandate for the Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) was to be a more aggressive leader in coordinating aid, while toeing a fine line between civilian and military organizations. Eide had to fill vacant positions and give the UN mission more political direction, while maintaining its independence (he reminds readers that the UN had been in Afghanistan since the late 1940s, not since 9/11). While the Bush administration was eager and ready to give the mission monetary support, there was little regulation of that bounty, resulting in highly paid middlemen and rampant corruption. With the arrival President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, a more rigorous accountability ensued, with something that looked like a real strategy--"in many ways similar to ours," writes Eide. The author considers at length the international monitoring of the 2009 presidential elections (he depicts a remarkably close, frank relationship with Karzai), the rise of insurgency, often as the result of local resentment over the international presence, and a rapprochement with a (changed) Taliban. Eide writes persuasively from the Afghan point of view and urges the need for "Afghan ownership." Clear-eyed, pertinent account from a leader who derives his experience from the trenches.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616084646
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/18/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

A Norwegian politician and diplomat, Kai Eide was the United Nations special representative to Afghanistan from March 2008 to March 2010. He has held several international posts: he previously served as the special envoy of the United Nations secretary-general in Kosovo in 2005 and as special representative of the secretary-general in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1997 to 1998. A member of the Norwegian Foreign Service since 1975, he was the Norwegian ambassador to NATO from 2002 to 2006.
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