Backstabbing for Beginners by Michael Soussan
My Crash Course in International Diplomacy

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Michael Soussan

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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.
 
Published November 4, 2008 by Nation Books. 346 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Soussan (Global Affairs/New York Univ.) was recruited to the UN in 1997 to help with the expansion of an unprecedented program to use Iraq’s oil revenues for humanitarian aid such as food and medicine to counter the effects of sanctions on the civilian population.

Oct 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Backstabbing for Beginners: M...

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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.

Nov 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Backstabbing for Beginners: M...

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