I always admired Prof John K. Galbraith, the US ambassador to India, for his remarkable insight, professionalism and warmth. His son, Peter W. Galbraith, until recently the top American in the UN mission in Afghanistan, appears to have inherited the same wonderful qualities of his no-nonsense dad.
Peter Galbraith was fired yesterday after refusing to take part in what he called “a cover-up” of fraud in the Afghan election, reports The Times of London. His dismissal has caused a split in the United Nations mission in Afghanistan. Five members of the UN mission had offered their resignation in support of Mr Galbraith.
Peter Galbraith, the son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith, left the country abruptly last month after a clash with his Norwegian boss, Kai Eide. Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, announced yesterday he was dismissing Mr Galbraith “in the best interest of the mission”.
Galbraith told The Times from his farmhouse in Vermont: “I think it’s astonishing that the United Nations would dismiss an official because he was concerned about fraud in a UN-funded and UN-supported election.
“I want to emphasise that my position was not for or against any candidate. It was simply that the votes should be honestly counted.
“I was not prepared to be complicit in a cover-up or in an effort to downplay the fraud that took place. I felt we had to face squarely the fraud that took place. Kai downplayed the fraud.”
The row between Mr Galbraith and Mr Eide goes to the core of international strategy in Afghanistan. “Mr Galbraith, a former US ambassador in Croatia, accused his old friend Mr Eide, a former UN representative in Bosnia, of refusing to do anything that jeopardised his relationship with President Karzai.
“He said that, before the August 20 election, he wanted to take steps to minimise fraud by eliminating ‘ghost’ polling stations in Taliban-held territory – but Mr Eide rejected the proposal.
“During the election, the UN collected data on fraud – but Mr Eide ordered that it not be shared with the Election Complaints Commission, he said.”
What is the moral of the story? The US and the United Nations want to continue with a puppet regime in Afghanistan whatever be the cost.
The Independent reports: “The decision, taken on the sidelines of last week’s UN General Assembly, signalled that Washington and its partners wanted to put the contested election behind them, in order to focus on the war. With the harsh Afghan winter approaching, any run-off would almost certainly have to wait until spring, when it might interfere with renewed military operations against the Taliban.
“Outspoken and deeply committed to human rights, the 58-year old Mr Galbraith – a son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith – has decades of experience of global hot spots.
“Given America’s leadership of the coalition waging the Afghan war, it is scarcely imaginable that his dismissal by Mr Ban was not approved by the Obama administration. His departure casts another shadow over the crucial discussions under way here over future strategy in the war – in essence a choice between stepping up the war on the ground by injecting up to 40,000 more US troops, or scaling back operations to focus on al-Qa’ida.”
Peter Glabraith is the author of The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End.
“Excellent and indispensable…. Peter Galbraith’s learned and insightful book is literally a must-read for those who wish to place the Iraq war in historical context and to understand the forces at play in what may well be the dissolution of Iraq.”
— Phillip G. Henderson, National Catholic Reporter
“Galbraith’s book is important because, as much as any American, he has lived the Iraq tragedy up close and personal.”
— David Ignatius, The Washington Post Book World
“Galbraith, a leading commentator on Iraq…presents a clear-eyed and persuasive case against the Bush administration’s nation-building project there.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred)
“[Galbraith’s] account of the blunders and the missed opportunities is by a very long way the best one published so far…. Here at last is a book written by someone who both knows about Iraq and cares about it…. How one wishes that its author had been listened to in the first place.”
— Christopher Hitchens, The Washington Times
Swaraaj Chauhan describes his two-decade-long stint as a full-time journalist as eventful, purposeful, and full of joy and excitement. In 1993 he could foresee a different work culture appearing on the horizon, and decided to devote full time to teaching journalism (also, partly, with a desire to give back to the community from where he had enriched himself so much.)
Alongside, he worked for about a year in 1993 for the US State Department’s SPAN magazine, a nearly five-decade-old art and culture monthly magazine promoting US-India relations. It gave him an excellent opportunity to learn about things American, plus the pleasure of playing tennis in the lavish American embassy compound in the heart of New Delhi.
In !995 he joined WWF-India as a full-time media and environment education consultant and worked there for five years travelling a great deal, including to Husum in Germany as a part of the international team to formulate WWF’s Eco-tourism policy.
He taught journalism to honors students in a college affiliated to the University of Delhi, as also at the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication where he lectured on “Development Journalism” to mid-career journalists/Information officers from the SAARC, African, East European and Latin American countries, for eight years.
In 2004 the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) selected him as a Trainer/Mentor for India under a European Union project. In 2008/09 He completed another European Union-funded project for the BBC WST related to Disaster Management and media coverage in two eastern States in India — West Bengal and Orissa.
Last year, he spent a couple of months in Australia and enjoyed trekking, and also taught for a while at the University of South Australia.
Recently, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Studies at Chitkara University in Chandigarh, a beautiful city in North India designed by the famous Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. He also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students there.
He loves trekking, especially in the hills, and never misses an opportunity to play a game of tennis. The Western and Indian classical music are always within his reach for instant relaxation.
And last, but not least, is his firm belief in the power of the positive thought to heal oneself and others.