Cover image for Doomed in Afghanistan : a UN officer's memoir of the fall of Kabul and Najibullah's failed escape, 1992
Doomed in Afghanistan : a UN officer's memoir of the fall of Kabul and Najibullah's failed escape, 1992
Corwin, Phillip.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, NJ : Rutgers University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xx, 241 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
1. Setting the stage -- 2. The journal : April 1992 -- 3. The view from UN headquarters -- 4. Seven years after : an interview with Afghan expatriates.
Reading Level:
1200 Lexile.
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS371.3 .C67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



To understand more deeply the tragic events of September 11, 2001, it is critical to know Afghanistan's recent and turbulent past. Doomed in Afghanistan provides a first-hand account of how failed diplomacy led to an Islamic fundamentalist victory in a war-torn country, and subsequently, to a Taliban takeover and a home for Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network.

In April of 1992, Phillip Corwin was part of a United Nations team in Afghanistan whose mission was to help ensure the transfer of power from the Soviet-installed communist regime of President Najibullah to an interim government (that would prepare for elections). Without the support of the Soviet Union, Najibullah's regime crumbled, and he was convinced to resign in favor of a national unity government, with the understanding that he would be evacuated to a neutral country (India). Due to a series of miscalculations and machinations, the U.N.'s diplomatic mission failed. Kabul fell to groups of mujahiddin before Najibullah could be evacuated. The inability of the various mujahiddin factions to unite led to their eventual defeat by the Taliban, who four years later routed Najibullah from his safe haven at the U.N. compound, and executed him.

Corwin gives a vivid account of the seminal event of Najibullah's failed evacuation and the frenzied negotiations that were unable to forestall the anarchy and chaos that followed.

Author Notes

During his career with the UN, Phillip Corwin was an information officer, a speech writer for the secretary-general, and served in peace-keeping operations in Haiti, the Western Sahara, Afghanistan, and the former Yugoslavia

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Much has been written about Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in October 2001. This book, written by career UN official Corwin, focuses on the period after the Soviets left the country in 1988, when the UN was given the task of establishing a broad-based regime that would have included the communists. Thanks to the intrigues of the US and its clients, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the UN team, of which the author was a member, failed to effect the escape of Najibullah, the leftist president of Afghanistan, from Kabul. As a result, there could be no broad-based coalition that might have prevented the rise of the Taliban and the country's decline into barbarism. After the fall of Kabul in 1992, Corwin prophesied, "Peace in Afghanistan is years away. Revenge is the order of the day." This engaging and sympathetic essay enables readers to understand the country's tragic recent past and the failure of diplomacy (thanks to the self-interest of other powers), which paved the way for civil war and the rise of "Islamic fundamentalism." This elegant essay will satisfy curious readers and fulfill the author's hope of providing a primary source for future historians. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. F. Ahmad emeritus, University of Massachusetts at Boston

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Glossaryp. xvii
Waiting for the end: Kabul, 4/92 (poem)p. xx
1 Setting the Stagep. 1
2 The Journal: April 1992p. 33
3 The View from UN Headquartersp. 147
4 Seven Years After: An Interview with Afghan Expatriatesp. 189
Epilogue: After the Events of 11 September 2001p. 197
Notesp. 219
Selected Bibliographyp. 223
Indexp. 227