Backstabbing for Beginners: My Crash Course in International DiplomacyPaperback
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- Publisher: Nation Books
- Format: Paperback | 352 pages
- Dimensions: 145mm x 226mm x 25mm | 363g
- Publication date: 17 June 2010
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 1568584415
- ISBN 13: 9781568584416
- Edition statement: First Trade Paper ed
- Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
- Sales rank: 323,216
The year is 1997, Michael Soussan, a fresh-faced young graduate takes up a new job at the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food Program, the largest humanitarian operation in the organization's history. His mission is to help Iraqi civilians survive the devastating impact of economic sanctions that were imposed following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. As a gaffe-prone novice in a world of sensitive taboos, Soussan struggles to negotiate the increasing paranoia of his incomprehensible boss and the inner workings of one of the world's notoriously complex bureaucracies. But as he learns more about the vast sums of money flowing through the program, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Soussan becomes aware that Saddam Hussein is extracting illegal kickbacks, a discovery that sets him on a collision course with the organization's leadership. On March 8, 2004, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed editorial, Soussan becomes the first insider to call for "an independent investigation" of the U.N.'s dealings with Saddam Hussein. One week later, a humiliated Kofi Annan appointed Paul Volcker to lead a team of sixty international investigators, whose findings resulted in hundreds of prosecutions in multiple countries, many of which are still ongoing. Backstabbing for Beginners is at once a witty tale of one man's political coming of age, and a stinging indictment of the hypocrisy that prevailed at the heart of one of the world's most idealistic institutions.
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Michael Soussan has written for numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, and the International Herald Tribune. He currently teaches at New York University's Center for Global Affairs and lives in New York City.
"[Michael Soussan's] tale is one of a profound institutional corruption, infinitely more significant than that of any single individual. The next time you hear anyone mention the United Nations and moral authority in the same sentence, tell them to read this book." -Sunday Times "Fascinating... [an] excellent source of information about corruption among leading participatory nations and the UN itself [and] an important revelatory work." -The Morning Star"