Peter Woodard Galbraith (born December 31, 1950) is an American author, academic, commentator, politician, policy advisor, and former United States diplomat.
Photo by Damir Fabijanic
|Member of the Vermont Senate|
from the Windham County district
January 5, 2011 – January 7, 2015
|Preceded by||Peter Shumlin|
|Succeeded by||Becca Balint|
|United States Ambassador to Croatia|
June 28, 1993 – January 3, 1998
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||William Montgomery|
Peter Woodard Galbraith
December 31, 1950
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Anne O'Leary (divorced)|
|Father||John Kenneth Galbraith|
|Relatives||James K. Galbraith (brother)|
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
St Catherine's College, Oxford
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he helped uncover Saddam Hussein's gassing of the Kurds. From 1993 to 1998, he served as the first U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, where he was co-mediator of the 1995 Erdut Agreement that ended the Croatian War of Independence. He served in East Timor's first transitional government, successfully negotiating the Timor Sea Treaty.[nb 1] As an author and commentator, Galbraith, a longtime advocate of the Kurdish people, has argued for Iraq to be "partitioned" into three parts, allowing for Kurdistan independence. Beginning in 2003, Galbraith acted as an informal advisor to the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, helping to influence the drafting process of the Iraqi Constitution in 2005. In 2009, Galbraith was appointed United Nations' Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, where he contributed to exposing the fraud that took place in the 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan before being fired in a dispute over how to handle that fraud.
Galbraith served as a Democratic Vermont State Senator from Windham County from 2011 to 2015, and was a candidate for Governor of Vermont in 2016. He is on the Board of Directors of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the research arm of the Council for a Livable World.
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign RelationsEdit
Galbraith worked as a staff member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1979 to 1993. As a staffer, he wrote several reports on Iraq and took a special interest in the Kurdish regions of Iraq. Galbraith contributed to the uncovering of Saddam Hussein's systematic destruction of Kurdish villages and use of chemical weapons after visits in 1987 and 1988. Galbraith wrote the "Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988," which would have imposed comprehensive sanctions on Iraq in response to the gassing of the Kurds. The bill unanimously passed the Senate, and passed the House in a "watered-down" version, but was opposed by the Reagan Administration as "premature" and did not become law.
During the 1991 Iraqi Kurdish uprising, Galbraith visited rebel-held northern Iraq, and narrowly escaped capture by Saddam Hussein's forces as they retook the region. His accounts were instrumental in recording and publicizing attacks on the Kurdish civilian population and contributed to the decision to create a Kurdish "safe haven" in northern Iraq. In 1992, Galbraith brought out of northern Iraq 14 tons of captured Iraqi secret police documents detailing the atrocities that had been committed against the Kurds. Galbraith's work in Iraqi Kurdistan was discussed in Samantha Power's Pulitzer-Prize-winning book A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.
Ambassador to CroatiaEdit
In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Galbraith as the first United States Ambassador to Croatia. Galbraith was actively involved in the Croatia and Bosnia peace processes. He was one of three authors of the "Z-4 plan," an attempt to negotiate a political solution to the Croatian War of Independence. Galbraith and UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg went on to lead negotiations which led to the Erdut Agreement that ended the war by providing for peaceful reintegration of Serb-held Eastern Slavonia into Croatia. From 1996 to 1998, Galbraith served as de facto Chairman of the international commission charged with monitoring implementation of the Erdut Agreement. Galbraith helped devise and implement the strategy that ended the 1993-94 Muslim-Croat war, and participated in the negotiation of the Washington Agreement that established the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
During the war years, Ambassador Galbraith was responsible for U.S. humanitarian programs in the former Yugoslavia and for U.S. relations with the UNPROFOR peacekeeping mission headquartered in Zagreb. Galbraith diplomatic interventions facilitated the flow of humanitarian assistance to Bosnia and secured the 1993 release of more than 5,000 prisoners of war held in inhumane conditions by Bosnian Croat forces. Beginning in 1994, on instructions from then-President Clinton, Galbraith tacitly allowed weapons to be shipped into Bosnia through Croatia in violation of a UN arms embargo; this policy generated controversy when made public, with a Republican-led House of Representatives committee referring criminal charges against Galbraith, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake and other Clinton Administration officials to the Justice Department. The Select Committee also investigated Galbraith's personal life, discovering that he had dated an American journalist while a bachelor in Zagreb.
In 1995, when tens of thousands of Serb refugees were being attacked while fleeing to Yugoslavia, Galbraith joined a convoy to protect the refugees, riding on a tractor to send a message of U.S. support and earning him criticism from local Croatian media and officials.
From January 2000 to August 2001, Galbraith was Director for Political, Constitutional and Electoral Affairs for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). He also served as Cabinet Member for Political Affairs and Timor Sea in the First Transitional Government of East Timor. In these roles, he designed the territory's first interim government and the process to write East Timor's permanent constitution.
During his tenure, Galbraith conducted unsuccessful negotiations with Australia to produce a new treaty governing the exploitation of oil and gas in the Timor Sea.[nb 1] The resulting Timor Sea Treaty gave East Timor the preponderance of control over the oil and gas resources and 90% of the petroleum, an "enormously favorable" share. Under the previous Timor Gap Treaty—considered illegal by East Timor and the United Nations—Indonesia and Australia had jointly controlled the resources and shared equally the revenues. According to United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, "Galbraith secured a deal by which the Timorese and the Australians would create a Joint Petroleum Development Area from which the Timorese would receive 90% of the revenue and the Australians 10%, a dramatic improvement over the unfair 50-50 split that predated UN negotiations. [...] The Galbraith-led negotiations would quadruple the oil available to East Timor for sale." The negotiations are believed to be the first time the United Nations has a negotiated a bilateral treaty on behalf of a state.
Galbraith also led the UNTAET/East Timor negotiating team during eighteen months of negotiations with Indonesia aimed at normalizing relations and resolving issues arising from the end of the Indonesian occupation.
Involvement in Iraq's constitutional processEdit
From 2003 to 2005, Iraq was involved in a number of negotiations to draft an interim and then a permanent constitution. In that context, Galbraith advised both the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the two main Kurdish parties of Iraq, particularly with a view to encouraging the emergence of a strongly decentralized state. Galbraith later wrote that he had urged Kurdish leaders to take a stronger position in negotiations, suggesting that "'The Constitution should state that the Constitution of Kurdistan, and laws made pursuant to the Constitution, is the supreme law of Kurdistan.'" Galbraith later wrote that his ideas on federalism "eventually became the basis of Kurdistan's proposals for an Iraq constitution".
Galbraith favors the independence – legal or de facto – of the northern region of Iraq known as Iraqi Kurdistan. Galbraith argues that Iraq has broken into three parts (Kurd, Shiite Arab, and Sunni Arab), that there is no possibility of uniting the country, and that the U.S.'s "main error" in Iraq has been its attempt to maintain Iraq as a single entity. He has advocated for a three-part "partition" of Iraq to reflect this situation, writing, "Let's face it: partition is a better outcome than a Sunni-Shiite civil war." Outside of Kurdistan, which favors its own independence, these ideas are considered offensive to the nationalist feelings of many Iraqis.
Deputy U.N. Envoy to AfghanistanEdit
Galbraith, considered a close ally of Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan, was announced as the next United Nations' Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan on March 25, 2009 but abruptly left the country in mid September 2009 at the request of UN Special Representative to Afghanistan Kai Eide following a dispute over the handling of the reported fraud in the 2009 Afghan presidential election - and on September 30, the UN announced that he had been removed from his position by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
In response to his firing, Galbraith told The Times, "I was not prepared to be complicit in a cover-up or in an effort to downplay the fraud that took place. I felt we had to face squarely the fraud that took place. Kai downplayed the fraud.". When Eide announced his own stepping down in December 2009, he did not do so voluntarily, according to Galbraith, though Eide has said it was a voluntary departure.
In December 2009, Kai Eide and Vijay Nambiar accused Galbraith of proposing enlisting the White House in a plan to force the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to resign, and to install a more Western-friendly figure as president of Afghanistan. According to reports of the plan, which was never realized, the new government would be led by the former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, or by the former interior minister Ali Ahmad Jalali. Karzai's term expired May 21, 2009, and the Supreme Court, in a controversial decision, extended until voting on August 20, 2009. Galbraith flatly denied there was a plan to oust Karzai. He said he and his staff merely had internal discussions on what to do if a runoff for the presidency were delayed until May 2010 as a result of the fraud problems and other matters. Karzai's continuation in office a full year after the end of his term would have been unconstitutional and unacceptable to the Afghan opposition. Galbraith explained that the internal discussions concerned avoiding a constitutional crisis, that any solution would have required the consent of both Karzai and the opposition, and the UN's involvement was consistent with its good offices role. He noted that Kai Eide, his chief accuser, proposed replacing Karzai with an interim government a month later in a meeting with foreign diplomats in Kabul.
The United Nations announced that Galbraith had initiated legal action against the United Nations over his dismissal. The United Nations has an internal justice system under which such challenges can be lodged. Martin Nesirky, spokesman for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said the reason Galbraith "was terminated was that the secretary general determined that such action would be in the interests of the organization".
Galbraith was an assistant professor of Social Relations at Windham College in Putney, Vermont, from 1975 to 1978. Later, he was Professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College in 1999 and between 2001 and 2003.
Galbraith has contributed opinion columns in relation to issues including political developments in Iraq and Afghanistan, for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Independent and The New York Review of Books. On Iraq, he has argued that "[c]ivil war and the breakup of Iraq are more likely outcomes [of the invasion of Iraq] than a successful transition to a pluralistic Western-style democracy". He has also argued that the Bush administration "has put the United States on the side of undemocratic Iraqis who are Iran's allies". On the 2009 Afghan Presidential Elections, he wrote in the New York Times that "[if] the second round of Afghanistan's presidential elections [...] is a rerun of the fraud-stained first round, it will be catastrophic for that country and the allied military mission battling the Taliban and Al Qaeda." After the election's second round was canceled, he wrote that "[t]he decision by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to cancel the second round and declare the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, the victor concludes a process that undermined Afghanistan's nascent democracy."
On November 2, 2010, Galbraith won election to the Vermont State Senate from Windham County as a Democrat, and was reelected in 2012. in 2011, Galbraith initiated legislation to ban hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), making Vermont the first state in the country to ban fracking. In 2014, he introduced the legislation to finance Vermont's single payer health care plan, Act 48, a plan which eventually failed to pass.
Among his Senate colleagues, he gained a reputation for speaking at length on the floor and introducing amendments to almost every bill, and he had a difficult time gaining political allies. According to the Vermont Senate Journal, Galbraith proposed amendments aiming to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour, to ban corporate campaign contributions, to prevent wealthy persons from evading campaign finance limits, to delete a $5 million appropriation for IBM, to extend Vermont's bottle bill to non-carbonated beverages, to create a subsidized public option on the Vermont Health Connect exchange and to return $21 million to ratepayers as a condition of the GMP-CVPS merger. Galbraith's critics said he did not adapt well to the Vermont Senate's culture and described him as "abrasive," and "arrogant", but others in the Senate praised his intelligence, clear thinking, and nonconformism. Governor Peter Shumlin described him as "incredibly articulate, bright and capable." Galbraith did not run for a third term in 2014, citing a desire to focus on his career in international diplomacy.
Candidate for GovernorEdit
Galbraith announced in March 2016 that he would be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Vermont in 2016. Galbraith ran on an "unapologetically progressive" and "unconventional" platform which included raising the minimum wage, eventually to $15 per hour; establishing universal health care or universal primary health care; and banning campaign contributions from corporations; putting a moratorium on new industrial wind turbines; and eliminating "special interest" tax breaks. Galbraith supported universal background checks for gun sales in Vermont, and called for a ban on assault weapons.
Galbraith came in third in the primary, behind Matt Dunne and the winner Sue Minter, whom Galbraith endorsed. Despite the outcome, he credited his campaign with introducing substantive policy debates, especially over single-payer health care, into the race.
Galbraith was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Kenneth Galbraith, one of the leading economists of the 20th century, and Catherine Galbraith (née Catherine Merriam Atwater). He is the brother of economist James K. Galbraith. Galbraith attended the Commonwealth School. He earned an A.B. degree from Harvard College, an M.A. from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. He has one child with his first wife, Anne O'Leary, and two children with his current wife.
Galbraith was a good friend of the twice-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, dating back to their time together as students at Harvard and Oxford Universities; he was instrumental in securing Bhutto's release from prison in Pakistan for a medical treatment abroad during the military dictatorship of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.
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- Mercer, David (2004). "Dividing Up the Spoils: Australia, East Timor and the Timor Sea". Space and Polity. 8 (3): 289–308. doi:10.1080/1356257042000309625.
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- Power, Samantha. (2010). Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to save the World. The Penguin Press. pp. 334–336. ISBN 978-1-59420-128-8.
- Galbraith, Peter (2003). "The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor: Building a Nation from the Ground Up". In Azimi, N.; Fuller, M.; Nakayama, H. (eds.). Post-conflict Reconstruction in Japan, Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor and Afghanistan: Proceedings of an International Conference in Hiroshima, November 2002. Renouf Publishing Company Limited. p. 162. ISBN 978-92-1-101057-2. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- Galbraith, Peter (2006). The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War without End. Simon and Schuster. pp. 4, 12, 160, 222, 224. ISBN 978-0-7432-9423-2.
- Galbraith, Peter W. (October 23, 2007). "Make Walls, Not War". The New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
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- Press Release (2009-03-25). "Secretary-General Appoints Peter W. Galbraith Of United States As Deputy Special Representative For Afghanistan". Secretary-General Department of Public Information.
- Bone, James; Starkey, Jerone; Coghlan, Tom (2009-09-15). "UN chief Peter Galbraith is removed in Afghanistan poll clash". London: Times Online. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
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- Hockenberry, John; Headlee, Celeste Headlee (2009-10-01). "Dismissed Afghan Envoy Speaks Out". Transcript of interview with Peter Galbraith. TheTakeAway.org. Archived from the original on 2009-10-04.
- "Galbraith: Eide was fired" by Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy "The Cable," 2009-12-14, 3:41pm. Footnote expanded 2009-12-17.
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- Galbraith, Peter W. (2009-10-27). "Afghanistan Votes, the U.N. Dithers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- Galbraith, Peter (2009-11-02). "Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
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