The Power Struggle over Afghanistan: An Inside Look at What Went Wrong—and What We Can Do to Fix It

Kai Eide, Author
Kai Eide. Skyhorse (Norton, dist.), $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61608-464-6
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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.)
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