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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.
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.