This new format places more of the choice on you, the Reader. My colleagues and I at American Diplomacy have identified a variety of new books that we believe may interest you. We’ve provided basic information on the books and links to reviews. You have the choice of whether, or how far, to pursue your interests in the books that follow. This month we’ve featured an original book review of note. Good reading! And please let us know how you like the new format.
William P. Kiehl, Ed.D.
Contributing Editor, Books
The U.S. government has essentially two choices when dealing with adversarial states—isolate them or engage them. Isolate or Engage systematically examines the challenges to and opportunities for U.S. diplomatic relations with nine intensely adversarial statesâ€”China, Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, U.S.S.R./Russia, Syria, Venezuela, and Vietnam: states where the situation is short of conventional war and where the U.S. maintains limited or no formal diplomatic relations with the government.
In such circumstances, “public diplomacy”—the means by which the U.S. engages with citizens in other countries so they will push their own governments to adopt less hostile and more favorable views of U.S. foreign policies—becomes extremely important for shaping the context within which the adversarial government makes important decisions affecting U.S. national security interests. At a time when the norm of not talking to the enemy is a matter of public debate, the book examines the role of both traditional and public diplomacy with adversarial states and reviews the costs and benefits of U.S. diplomatic engagement with the publics of these countries. It concludes that while public diplomacy is not a panacea for easing conflict in interstate relations, it is one of many productive channels that a government can use in order to stay informed about the status of its relations with an adversarial state, and to seek to improve those relations.
Geoffrey Wiseman is Professor of the Practice of International Relations, University of Southern California.
World War I and the Russian Revolution together shaped the twentieth century in profound ways. In The End of Tsarist Russia, acclaimed scholar Dominic Lieven connects for the first time the two events, providing both a history of the First World War’s origins from a Russian perspective and an international history of why the revolution happened.
Based on exhaustive work in seven Russian archives as well as many non-Russian sources, Dominic Lieven’s work is about far more than just Russia. By placing the crisis of empire at its core, Lieven links World War I to the sweep of twentieth-century global history. He shows how contemporary hot issues such as the struggle for Ukraine were already crucial elements in the run-up to 1914.
By incorporating into his book new approaches and comparisons, Lieven tells the story of war and revolution in a way that is truly original and thought-provoking.
Dominic Lieven is Professor of Russian studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, a Fellow of the British Academy and of Trinity College, Cambridge.
As climate change makes the Arctic a region of key political interest, so questions of sovereignty are once more drawing international attention. The promise of new sources of mineral wealth and energy, and of new transportation routes, has seen countries expand their sovereignty claims. Increasingly, interested parties from both within and beyond the region, including states, indigenous groups, corporate organizations, and NGOs and are pursuing their visions for the Arctic. What form of political organization should prevail? Contesting the Arctic provides a map of potential governance options for the Arctic and addresses and evaluates the ways in which Arctic stakeholders throughout the region are seeking to pursue them.
‘Contesting the Arctic is a sophisticated analysis of how contemporary discourses and performances are caught up in older colonial and Cold War legacies of knowledge production and geopolitics. It is a reminder to us all that we need to be ever vigilant in terms of how vast and complex spaces such as the “Arctic” are constituted and reproduced in political and popular cultures. As global attention grows towards the Arctic, this book reminds us that the Arctic is also a homeland and not an “empty space” to be scrambled over.’ (Klaus Dodds, Professor of Geopolitics, Royal Holloway, University of London).
The authors: Philip E. Steinberg is Professor of Political Geography and Director of IBRU, the Centre for Borders Research, Durham University, UK; Jeremy Tasch is Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Planning, Towson University, Towson, USA; Hannes Gerhardt is Associate Professor, Department of Geosciences, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, USA.
Selling Apartheid tells the story of the South African propaganda campaign, run with military precision, which involved a worldwide network of supporters, including global corporations with business operations in South Africa, conservative religious organizations and an unlikely coalition of liberal US black clergy and anti-communist black conservatives aligned with right-wing Cold War politicians. A large focus of the campaign was put on the United States because as its one-time coordinator, Eschel Rhoodie, wrote: “America dominates Western thought as far as Africa is concerned.” Not even the exposure of the program by South African journalists in the late 1970s, which would bring down a president and send Rhoodie on the run, would stop the worldwide campaign. In fact, it would expand and morph into a much larger and subtler operation. It would end in the early 1990s, only after domestic problems caused the government to focus its energies on issues at home.
The book details interviews with many of the players, such as South African government ministers and civil servants, corporate leaders; anti-apartheid leaders and others, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the attempt to sell apartheid abroad. In addition, thousands of previously unreleased records from both the South African and the United States archives will help shed light on the scope of the campaign and reveal an astonishing story.
Ron Nixon is a Washington correspondent for the New York Times. He is a visiting associate in the Department of Media and Journalism Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he teaches investigative reporting and data journalism. He has published an e-book, Operation Blackwash, and was a contributor to The Farrakhan Factor: African-American Writers on Leadership, Nationhood, and Minister Louis Farrakhan (Grover Press) and The American Civil Rights Movement.
Controversial former vice president Dick Cheney, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and his daughter Liz Cheney, former deputy assistant secretary of state, explain the unique and indispensable nature of American power, reveal the damage done by President Obama’s abandonment of this principle, and show how America can and must lead again.
Since World War II, American power and leadership have been an unmatched force for the defense of freedom around the globe. For 70 years, presidents both Republican and Democratic have shared a dedication to maintaining American power and leadership. President Obama has abandoned this bipartisan tradition, choosing instead to “lead from behind” as he abandons America’s allies, appeases our enemies, and apologizes for this great nation.
When the former vice president spoke out on the topic last year, the Wall Street Journal declared, “Dick Cheney is still right,” and the Washington Post lauded his comments, adding that “unless we have a president who understands that proactive, early action and a robust military force are essential to national security, we will forever be racing to catch up to our enemies.”
Now the former vice president and his daughter, former deputy assistant secretary of state Liz Cheney, team up to explain how President Obama has drastically broken with the bipartisan foreign policy consensus that enabled America to prevail in World War II, to win the Cold War, and to triumph in the first decade of the War on Terror. The Cheneys reveal the damage done by President Obama’s policies and demonstrate how his unwillingness to defend and protect American power has weakened the nation.
The Cheneys chart a path forward to restoring American power and strength, explaining what must be done to reverse course, to fight and win the war on terror, to rebuild our military and reassure our allies that they can once again rely on American leadership. Chaney fans will see it as a critical, frank, and much-needed touchstone. Opponents will find little to admire.
The ‘long nineteenth century’ (1776—1914) was a period of political, economic, military and cultural revolutions that re-forged both domestic and international societies. Neither existing international histories nor international relations texts sufficiently register the scale and impact of this ‘global transformation’, yet it is the consequences of these multiple revolutions that provide the material and ideational foundations of modern international relations.
Global modernity reconstituted the mode of power that underpinned international order and opened a power gap between those who harnessed the revolutions of modernity and those who were denied access to them. This gap dominated international relations for two centuries and is only now being closed.
By taking the global transformation as the starting point for international relations, this book repositions the roots of the discipline and establishes a new way of both understanding and teaching the relationship between world history and international relations.