Recent books and newspaper articles are full of dire reports on the future of Afghanistan, painting a bleak, violent picture of a nation with little chance for a peaceful outcome to its current troubles. Chris Alexander, former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan and former deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, sees something different: a peace that is not only theoretically possible but practically achievable given the right conditions.
Admittedly, 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 fuelling 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 Alexander’s confidence in Afghanistan’s future has never flagged.
The Long Way Back tells the story of the historic achievements and bitter disappointments encountered on the road to political stability. Bu the book is much more than a first-hand 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, Alexander reveals a portrait of Afghanistan like non other and makes an insightful and bold argument for what it will take to achieve a lasting peace.