Matthew Palmer is a twenty-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, currently serving as political counselor at the American Embassy in Belgrade. A life member of the Council of Foreign Relations, Palmer has worked as a diplomat all over the world. While on the secretary of state’s policy planning staff, Palmer helped design and implement the Kimberly Process for certifying African diamonds as conflict-free.” It was this experience in Africa that served as that foundation for The American Mission.
Excerpt from book:
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Copyright © 2014 by Matthew Palmer
May 7, 2006
Death came on horseback.
From the air-conditioned comfort of the brigadier’s trailer, Alex Baines could just make out the black smudge clinging to the horizon like a storm cloud. Through binoculars, the picture was clearer. Ranks of horsemen clustered together, their iron lances glinting in the sun. Except for the AK-47 assault rifles slung over their shoulders, it was a scene straight out of the fourteenth century.
The Janjaweed militiamen were massing for what Alex could only assume was an imminent assault on the Riad refugee camp. He focused his attention on the one man with the power to prevent a massacre.
“General, I beg you, please defend this camp. Your peacekeepers are the only thing standing between these people and mass slaughter.”
Arush Singh of the Indian Army’s First Gorkha Rifles looked at Alex with heavy, owlish eyes and sipped his omnipresent cup of tea. As always, the creases on his khaki uniform were sharp and crisp.
“Quite out of the question, I’m afraid,” Singh said, his upper-crust accent betraying his years of schooling at Cambridge and Sandhurst. “My mandate is limited to self-defense. I don’t have the authority to shoot at the Janjaweed unless they start shooting at my men, something I very much doubt they will do.”
“That is an extremely narrow reading of your authorities. There are half a dozen UN Security Council resolutions that identify Camp Riad by name as a designated safe area. We have the responsibility to protect the people who came here on that basis and with our explicit guarantee of security.”
“Riad is officially a safe area. Unfortunately, however, the one resolution that specifically established my command provides a much more limited mandate. We are authorized to use lethal force only in self- defense. You know the resolution, Mr. Baines, and the reason for it. It is not an oversight or an accident. The mandate was carefully negotiated among the members of the Security Council. It’s high politics, and there’s nothing a simple military man can do about it.”
The problem, Alex knew, was China. Beijing was allied to the Sudanese government in Khartoum and skeptical of the UN mission in Darfur. The Chinese were hungry for access to Sudan’s vast oil reserves. Rather than veto the resolution that created UNFIS—the UN deployment in Sudan—and face international outrage, Beijing had quietly neutered the mission in tedious negotiations in New York over the scope of the mandate. That was the way things worked in the UN sys- tem, and it was why, despite deploying a six-hundred-man force of Bangladeshi and Uruguayan infantry, UNFIS was something of a paper tiger.
“We’ve checked this carefully with the lawyers in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations back at headquarters,” Singh continued. “They are quite clear on this point.”
“The lawyers aren’t here,” Alex insisted. “We are. What happens next is on us, and we can’t pass that responsibilit
“There’s the mission the public knows, and the mission we’ll never see. Matthew Palmer knows both, which is what makes this novel crackle with complexity and authority. What a debut.”—Brad Meltzer, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“A thriller of great integrity and intelligence…I highly recommend it.”—Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The American Mission is one of those wonderful novels, where great storytelling is woven through with the intricate detail only a knowledgeable insider can supply. I loved it!”—Iris Johansen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Live to See Tomorrow
“Superb!...With The American Mission, Palmer joins the exalted ranks of Follett, Forsythe, and Clancy.”—Tess Gerritsen, International Bestselling Author
“Reminiscent of Graham Greene, Mr. Palmer is far better than John le Carre. This is the sort of book you don’t want to end.”—Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Spies