Our new format designed to replace our book reviews places more of the choice on you, the Reader. My colleagues and I at American Diplomacy will identify a variety of new books that we believe may interest you. We’ll provide basic information on the books and links to reviews. You will have the choice of whether, or how far, to pursue your interests in the books that follow. From time to time we will feature an original book review, like this month’s by Ambassador Tony Quainton, or a book essay of note.Â Good reading! And please let us know how you like the new format.
William P. Kiehl, Ed.D.
Contributing Editor, Books
It is a cherished belief among Thai people that their country was never colonized. Yet politicians, scholars, and other media figures chronically inveigh against Western colonialism and the imperialist theft of Thai territory. Thai historians insist that the country adapted to the Western-dominated world order more successfully than other Southeast Asian kingdoms and celebrate their proud history of independence. But many Thai leaders view the West as a threat and portray Thailand as a victim. Clearly Thailand’s relationship with the West is ambivalent.
The Lost Territories: Thailand’s History of National Humiliation explores this conundrum by examining two important and contrasting strands of Thai historiography: the well-known Royal-Nationalist ideology, which celebrates Thailand’s long history of uninterrupted independence; and what the author terms “National Humiliation discourse,” its mirror image. Shane Strate examines the origins and consequences of National Humiliation discourse, showing how the modern Thai state has used the idea of national humiliation to sponsor a form of anti-Western nationalism. Unlike triumphalist Royal-Nationalist narratives, National Humiliation history depicts Thailand as a victim of Western imperialist bullying. Focusing on key themes such as extraterritoriality, trade imbalances, and territorial loss, National Humiliation history maintains that the West impeded Thailand’s development even while professing its support and cooperation. Although the state remains the hero in this narrative, it is a tragic heroism defined by suffering and foreign oppression.
Through his insightful analysis of state and media sources, Strate demonstrates how Thai politicians have deployed National Humiliation imagery in support of ethnic chauvinism and military expansion. He shows how the discourse became the ideological foundation of Thailand’s irredentist strategy, the state’s anti-Catholic campaign, and its acceptance of pan-Asianism during World War II; and how the “state as victim” narrative has been used by politicians to redefine Thai identity and elevate the military into the role of national savior. The Lost Territories will be of particular interest to historians and political scientists for the light it sheds on many episodes of Thai foreign policy, including the contemporary dispute over Preah Vihear. The book’s analysis of the manipulation of historical memory will interest academics exploring similar phenomena worldwide.
Shane Strate is assistant professor of history at Kent State University.
In the early 1990s, Albania, arguably Europe’s most closed and repressive state, began a startling transition out of forty years of self-imposed Communist isolation. Albanians who were not allowed to practice religion, travel abroad, wear jeans, or read “decadent” Western literature began to devour the outside world. They opened cafÃ©s, companies, and newspapers. Previously banned rock music blared in the streets.
Modern Albania offers a vivid history of the Albanian Communist regime’s fall and the trials and tribulations that led the country to become the state it is today. The book provides an in-depth look at the Communists’ last Politburo meetings and the first student revolts, the fall of the Stalinist regime, the outflows of refugees, the crash of the massive pyramid-loan schemes, the war in neighboring Kosovo, and Albania’s relationship with the United States. Fred Abrahams weaves together personal experience from more than twenty years of work in Albania, interviews with key Albanians and foreigners who played a role in the country’s politics since 1990—including former Politburo members, opposition leaders, intelligence agents, diplomats, and founders of the Kosovo Liberation Army—and a close examination of hundreds of previously secret government records from Albania and the United States. A rich, narratively driven account, Modern Albania gives readers a front-row seat to the dramatic events of the last battle of Cold War Europe.
Fred C. Abrahams is a special advisor at Human Rights Watch and a writer who has worked for twenty years in areas marred by political crises and armed conflict, including the Balkans and Middle East.
http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/germany-russia-and-the-rise-of-geo-economics-9781472596321/ – sthash.QgPBYYai.dpuf
Having emerged from the end of the Cold War as a unified country, Germany has quickly become
the second largest exporter in the world. Its economic might has made it the center of the Eurozone and the pivotal power of Europe. Like other geo-economic powers, Germany’s foreign policy is characterized by a definition of the national interest in economic terms and the elevation of economic interests over non-economic values such as human rights or democracy promotion. This strategic paradigm is evident in German’s relationship with China, the Gulf States and Europe, but it is most important in regard to its evolving policies towards Russia.
In this book, Stephen F. Szabo provides a description and analysis of German policy towards Russia, revealing how unified Germany is finding its global role in which its interests do not always coincide with the United States or its European partners. He explores the role of German business and finance in the shaping of foreign policy and investigates how Germany’s Russia policy effects its broader foreign policy in the region and at how it is perceived by key outside players such as the United States, Poland and the EU. With reference to public, opinion, the media and think tanks Szabo reveals how Germans perceive Russians, and he uncovers the ways in which its dealings with Russia affect Germany in terms of the importing of corruption and crime.
Drawing on interviews with key opinion-shapers, business and financial players and policy makers and on a wide variety of public opinion surveys, media reports and archival sources, his will be a key resource for all those wishing to understand the new geo-economic balance of Europe.
http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-us-natodebate9781628924541/ – sthash.cN8WZrmv.dpuf
Since the Libya War in 2011 it has been widely suggested that NATO’s role in US security policy has diminished, because Washington gives Europe less and Asia more strategic priority (a tendency that is reinforced by budget restraints), and because the US is no longer interested in always leading NATO activities that mainly concern European conditions.
Several experts have suggested that the US expect that the European security challenges primarily should be handled by NATO’s European allies in a new transatlantic burden sharing model, and that the US role should principally be Article V-focused. This book investigates to what extent these claims are valid, and what consequences they may have for European and international security.
Magnus Petersson (PhD) is Professor of Modern History at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies, as well as an Associate Professor at Oslo University and Stockholm University. He has been a Lecturer, Researcher, Director of Studies, and Head of Research and Development at the Swedish National Defense College (1998â€“2008), and Visiting Scholar at Boston University, Department of International Relations as well as Fulbright Hildeman Fellow in Scandinavian Studies at IERES, George Washington University.
The War That Must Never Be Fought explores how nuclear deterrence should be understood seventy years after the first nuclear tests. These essays, edited by George P. Shultz and James E. Goodby, challenge outdated deterrence theories and show a clear need to reexamine notions from the Cold War that no longer fit present circumstances. They argue that a world without nuclear weapons is a desirable objective that is in the national security interests of the United States.
The contributors examine nuclear deterrence from the vantage points of nations in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, all of which have some form of security relationship with the United States, either cooperative or competitive. They explain, for instance, why agreement by Poland and Germany on nuclear deterrence and nuclear arms control is necessary if Europeans are to be proactive in reducing nuclear weapons in Europe and. They explore the strategic views, and resulting nuclear policies, of India and Pakistan to determine the possibilities for decoupling nuclear weapons from deterrence. They also tell why successfully reducing and ultimately eliminating the nuclear threat must be based on a combination of regional and global joint enterprises. The authors conclude with suggestions that might lead to a successful joint enterprise on security among the world’s nuclear powers.
George P. Shultz served in the Reagan administration as chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Advisory Board (1981-82) and secretary of state (1982-89). Since 1989, he has been a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution; in 2001, he was named the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow. He is honorary chairman of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Advisory Council, and chair of the Precourt Institute Energy Advisory Council at Stanford, the MIT Energy Initiative External Advisory Board, and the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy at the Hoover Institution.
James E. Goodby has served as US ambassador to Finland, vice chairman of the US delegation to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, and chief US negotiator for the safe and secure dismantlement of nuclear weapons. He is currently the Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. In 1994, he received the first Heinz Award in Public Policy.
From drone warfare in the Middle East to digital spying by the National Security Agency, the U.S. government has harnessed the power of cutting-edge technology to awesome effect. But what happens when ordinary people have the same tools at their fingertips? Advances in cybertechnology, biotechnology, and robotics mean that more people than ever before have access to potentially dangerous technologies—from drones to computer networks and biological agents—which could be used to attack states and private citizens alike.
In The Future of Violence, law and security experts Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum detail the myriad possibilities, challenges, and enormous risks present in the modern world, and argue that if our national governments can no longer adequately protect us from harm, they will lose their legitimacy. Consequently, governments, companies, and citizens must rethink their security efforts to protect lives and liberty. In this brave new world where many little brothers are as menacing as any Big Brother, safeguarding our liberty and privacy may require strong domestic and international surveillance and regulatory controls. Maintaining security in this world where anyone can attack anyone requires a global perspective, with more multinational forces and greater action to protect (and protect against) weaker states who do not yet have the capability to police their own people. Drawing on political thinkers from Thomas Hobbes to the Founders and beyond, Wittes and Blum show that, despite recent protestations to the contrary, security and liberty are mutually supportive, and that we must embrace one to ensure the other.
The Future of Violence is at once an introduction to our emerging world—one in which students can print guns with 3-D printers and scientists’ manipulations of viruses can be recreated and unleashed by ordinary people—and an authoritative blueprint for how government must adapt in order to survive and protect us.