Toby Ralph, described as one of the 'most powerful spinners and advisers in Australia', joined a UN team to assist with preparations for Afghanistan's 2009 presidential elections. Ballots, Bullets and Kabulshit offers a rare glimpse into the chaos and danger of attempting to deliver democracy in a war zone.
With the wry humour of a seasoned politico (or someone trying to distract themselves from the very real dangers of their situation), Ralph provides snapshots of life in Kabul, a primer in the political shambles of a failing state, and the reflections of a non-combatant working in a war zone in a suit and tie. He is whisked between meetings in armoured cars, tries to avoid sitting on the AK-47 down the back of the couch at his lodgings, dines with colleagues in sandbagged candlelit restaurants, and attempts to convince the Electoral Commission chairman – and friend of President Hamid Karzai – that having an election is a good idea.
That the poll ended in farce, with Karzai's reinstatement by default, means the UN will be sending another group of advisors when next an election is reluctantly called