Graciana del Castillo is an expert on countries in crises, including those affected by conflict, natural disasters and financial collapse. Her new book “Guilty Party: The International Community in Afghanistan” (XLibris, 2014) provides background on the country’s historical complexities and past efforts at international intervention to help readers understand the failure and outrageous cost of the Afghan War, both in terms of lives and taxpayer’s money.
The book discusses how and why security, political, and development efforts since 9/11 have failed, particularly since the military surge of 2009, in a situation where most economic aid was ineffective and fragmented, and was mostly directed towards insecure areas where it could not have a lasting impact. The book also addresses questions such as what could have been done differently to avoid the aid and drug traps in which the country finds itself. More importantly, it makes proposals on how to change the misguided policies and misplaced priorities of the past so that different indices stop ranking Afghanistan as “the most violent” and “most corrupt country,” and among those with “the lowest human development indicators.”
“Guilty Party: The International Community in Afghanistan” has received advance praise from top experts. Bestselling author, Ahmed Rashid, for example, has referred to it as “the most exciting book of the decade” and “a towering piece of work that sets the author as a desperately needed path breaker for a new era that is upon us in Afghanistan and for which we have no answers.” The book received the “Reviewer’s Choice” award from Blue Ink Reviews.
In the early 1990s, Dr. del Castillo was the first senior economist in the Cabinet of the UN Secretary-General, involved in ongoing post-conflict operations in Central America, Asia, and Africa. In that capacity, she designed the arms-for-land program for El Salvador that was credited for bringing the peace process back on track. Since then, she has been involved in most major conflicts and their aftermath. She is the author of “Rebuilding War-Torn States: The Challenge of Post-Conflict Economic Reconstruction” (Oxford University Press, 2008) and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.