After over a decade of international engagement in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan, peace is far from secured in those three countries. A skeptical observer is left wondering if anything has been accomplished by costly interventions in faraway lands, especially as more immediate threats - most acutely in the form of terrorist acts orchestrated by individuals or small groups - loom in the streets of New York, London, Paris, and other major cities throughout the world. At the same time, there is a growing sense of outrage as the conflict in Syria enters its third year and more than one hundred thousand lives have been lost. Intervention is unpromising but abstention seems callous.In The Fog of Peace, Jean-Marie Guehenno reflects on some of the most difficult questions facing international interventions today. Guehenno draws on his experience as the head of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations from 2000-2008, a period that included intense negotiations and spiraling crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan. He returned to the United Nations in 2012 to act as Kofi Annan's deputy in negotiations designed to find a - so far elusive - sustainable solution to the war in Syria.From his experience in leading negotiating teams and overseeing the decisions that placed UN blue helmets into some of the world's most dangerous environments, Guehenno draws a number of important lessons for those who remain committed to international engagement in civil wars in far off lands, as well as for those who would prefer retrenchment.
Jean-Marie Guehenno is a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings and at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, USA. He currently serves as the chairperson of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. Previously, as the under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations from 2000 to 2008, he led the biggest expansion of peacekeeping in the history of the United Nations.