Peter Galbraith used to be the number two United Nations representative in Afghanistan until September, when he left the post suddenly and without explanation. Last week, the New York Times reported that Galbraith was dismissed after he suggested that Afghan President Hamid Karzai should be ousted from office over widespread accusations of corruption. Galbraith had also been criticized for his controversial financial stake in an oil field in the Kurdish region of Iraq, seen by some as a conflict of interest. Now Galbraith is defending himself, and he comes out swinging. Here's what Galbraith is saying and what analysts think may be behind all this.
- Karzai Accusation Unture Galbraith defends in Sphere, alleging a conspiracy by the UN. "U.N. officials made the same charges in a news conference in October for the same reason that they have trotted them out again: to draw attention away from the U.N.'s mishandling of fraud in the Afghanistan elections," he writes, recounting the UN's handling of Karzai's reelection, which was widely seen as rife with fraud. Galbraith says he worked hard to reform the international body responsible for overseeing the election and to prevent the fraud he was convinced was coming. He was rebuffed and, he says, dismissed over the disagreement. "Since then, the U.N. has been scrambling to come up with an alternative explanation for my firing."
- My Long History In Kurdistan Galbraith defends himself in the New York Review of Books. "After being an eyewitness to Saddam Hussein's genocide against the Kurds in the 1980s, I came to the view that the Iraqi Kurdish aspiration for independence was morally justified and the only sure means of protecting the Kurdish people. In late 2003 and early 2004, I helped Kurdistan's leaders draft a proposal for a self-governing Kurdistan that was submitted to the Coalition Provisional Authority on February 11, 2004, for inclusion in Iraq's interim constitution." He explains that he helped Kurd leaders to establish oil independence and infrastructure, but denies that he forced through or had stake in the oil. "As even a superficial analysis would show, the allegation could not possibly be true. I was a private citizen, unconnected to any government and with no power to push through anything. I was not directly involved in any negotiations and was not in the room when they took place. I simply provided advice, unpaid and on an informal basis, to the Kurdish leaders."
- Galbraith And Internal UN Feuding Politico's Laura Rozen points out Galbraith left "after feuding with his Norwegian boss Kai Eide over how to deal with fraud in Afghanistan's August presidential elections. Last week, the UN announced that Eide would be leaving the mission next year too." She writes, "And no doubt, much of this is score settling in the Eide-Galbraith feud, now that Eide is being pushed out too. Surprising perhaps given that the two men weren't strangers or enemies when they took the top UN jobs in Afghanistan; Eide had introduced Galbraith to his Norwegian wife."
- Galbraith Was Good At His Job Spencer Ackerman defends him. "Even if Peter Galbraith personally siphoned a jillion barrels of Kurdish oil and sold them himself on the open market, the dude still displayed significant insight into those structural defects and their relationship to the international community."
- Galbraith Embodies Our Foreign Affairs Bumbles Foreign Policy's Peter Feaver explains why Galbraith shows "Our AfPak problem and the difficulty of playing well with others. "Galbraith is an interesting figure; he was the original author of what became known as the Biden Plan to divide Iraq into 3-parts." He writes of the Karzai allegations, "The Bush team, belying the cowboy image, believed that we got better results when we pressured beleaguered allies like Karzai or Musharraf in private and offered assurances in public. The Obama team believes that they will get better results if they pressure in private and in public. [...] It is very hard, however, to do that kind of public pressuring without antagonizing the government you are trying to cajole."