Backpacks Full of Hope: The UN Mission in Haiti describes the experience of a Chilean general as Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) during the particularly turbulent year September 2005 to September 2006. It details the realities of commanding more than 7,000 men from eleven countries while working to fulfill the mandate of the United Nations in Haiti—to ensure a secure and stable environment, to support the transitional government in a democratic political process, and to promote and protect the human rights of the Haitian people.
Despite the enormous challenges of a complex scenario that included local violence and extreme poverty, the UN command succeeded in its mission, stabilizing the local situation and paving the way for Haiti to hold a presidential election.
Originally published as Mision en Haiti, con la mochila cargada de esperanzas, this work provides a new audience with insight on the peace operation and sheds light on the long-term endeavour of civilians, military, and local and international agencies to support Haiti’s path to prosperity.
There have been numerous attempts to engage the United Nations in a meaningful campaign against state-supported and other terrorist activities. But the inherently political nature of terrorism has made it exceedingly difficult to gain global consensus on who even qualifies as a terrorist, much less agreement on counterterrorism measures to pursue.
The rise of al Qaeda, the events of 9/11, the Madrid train bombing, and the London mass transit bombings provided the international community and United Nations with new impetus to respond to terrorism. Although a series of international conventions were adopted and a short-lived independent monitoring group was established, the strategy that UN secretary general Kofi Annan proposed to the General Assembly in May 2006 contains many proposed measures and objectives that remain unfulfilled, thus rendering the UN virtually impotent against terrorism.
As one of five Security Council–appointed international monitors on the measures being taken against al Qaeda and the Taliban, Comras had the rare opportunity to observe the UN’s counterterrorism activities. He delves into the UN’s role in dealing with terrorism, explores the international political realities and institutional problems that make it difficult for the UN to successfully implement and monitor counterterrorism measures, and describes both the UN’s successes and failures, ultimately laying out a case for creating a stronger, more effective UN response. Flawed Diplomacy is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the war on terrorism and in gaining knowledge about the UN’s inner workings.
About the Author
Victor D. Comras is a leading expert on international sanctions and the global effort to combat terrorism and money laundering. A seasoned U.S. career diplomat, Comras frequently testifies before Congress on these issues and is a regular commentator on radio and television. His articles have appeared in numerous online journals and in the Washington Post, the Financial Times, and other publications. He is also a contributor to Terrorism Financing and State Responses: A Comparative Perspective (2007). He resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
First off, am really starting to pay attention to Right Livelihood, the Alternative Nobel that seems to avoid really big mistakes that have characterized the Nobel Peace Prize in recent decades (Kissinger to Obama). I first learned of this award when Herman Daly, conceptualizer of Ecological Economics, spoke at one of my conferences, and now I am going to look into this and post a listing of recipients at Phi Beta Iota, where all my reviews can be easily exploited across 98 distinct categories, something not possible here at Amazon.
I had the privilege of reviewing this book before it was published. Below is what I provided for use in publicizing the book, followed by my more detailed summary review provided here for the first time.
I have goose-bumps as I contemplate this book that I have just finished in galley form. The author is unique, a mix of Philip Caputo (Rumor of War), Robert Young Pelton (Come Back Alive), and Ralph Peters (Wars of Blood and Faith), with one huge difference–this man, this author, this son of Afghanistan who is red, white, and blue American–has given us the definitive book on all that is wrong with the American “way of war,” at the same time that he so clearly, so explicitly, so very simply, outlines the alternative path of how we can, we must, “wage peace” in Afghanistan. I am reminded by this author of Bonheoffer, of Gandhi, of Nelson Mandela. This is a book in which the souls of two nations come together, both dark and light, and we see in very personal terms, with deep cultural intelligence, that Afghanistan is unconquerable by force, but desperately seeking to connect and respond to kindness. It shames me that our government is so inept–and our population so abjectly disconnected from reality–that we have repeated Viet-Nam. Bagram Air Base is the Binh Hoa Air Base of my time; we once again seek to win hearts and minds while looking and acting like Darth Vader; and our military prisons are again filled with individuals framed by their enemies, imprisoned by gullible naïve uninformed Americans who mean well, but who are simply not trained, equipped, nor organized to wage peace.
Robert David STEELE Vivas
Co-founder USMC Intelligence Center, #1 Amazon Reviewer for Non-Fiction, Author on Intelligence
Highlights for me personally as a former Marine (1976-1996) who lived in Viet-Nam as a pre-teen from 1963-1967:
EDIT of 6 Sep 2010 to add comments on books once received.
I bought this book, a real bargain, at the suggestion of Dr. Walter Dorn, the “dean” of the peace intelligence scholars, who cites the book with great favor in his own forthcoming book, KEEPING WATCH: Monitoring and Technology in UN Peace Operations, which I am going through now in galley form.
Now that I am holding it in my hands, here are some comments.
1) Published in 1966, it is a phenomenal, an utterly superb, historical review of League of Nations, Latin American Union, and UN peace observation missions from 1920 to 1965. The book concludes with a major section on “Strengthening Peace Observations.”
2) Right away I decide to donate this book to the George Mason University library without marking it up, nor am I reading it, having seen enough to understand why Professor Dorn recommends it so highly as a historical reference work.
3) The book clearly needs a sequel, from 1966 to date, over 40 years of new conflicts and new peace missions, and I make mention of this hoping that someone reading this review will be inspired to take on the project with many collaborators.