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 or book essay of note. This month, our featured review is Green Signals reviewed by Jon P. Dorschner. Good reading! And please let us know how you like the new format.
William P. Kiehl, Ed.D.
Contributing Editor, Books
Set against the backdrop of tensions in East Asia, this book analyzes how East Asia’s “new middle powers” and emerging powers employ public diplomacy as a key element of their foreign policy strategy and in so doing influence regional power dynamics. The volume brings together contributions from an international and influential group of scholars, who are leading debates on public diplomacy within East Asia. Where the study of public diplomacy has so far focused primarily on the West, the essays in this book highlight the distinct strategies of East Asian powers and demonstrate that understanding public diplomacy requires studying its strategies and practices outside as much as within the Western world. A focus on public diplomacy likewise gives us a more varied picture of state-to-state relations in East Asia.
Jan Melissen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ in The Hague and Professor of Diplomacy at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. He is founding co-editor of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy and editor of the Brill Diplomatic Studies series.
Yul Sohn is a Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University, Korea. He also serves as chairman of the Global Net and director of the Japan Research Center at the East Asia Institute, a leading foreign policy think-tank in South Korea.
Westerners tend to divide the political world into “good” democracies and “bad” authoritarian regimes. But the Chinese political model does not fit neatly in either category. Over the past three decades, China has evolved a political system that can best be described as “political meritocracy.” The China Model seeks to understand the ideals and the reality of this unique political system. How do the ideals of political meritocracy set the standard for evaluating political progress (and regress) in China? How can China avoid the disadvantages of political meritocracy? And how can political meritocracy best be combined with democracy? Daniel Bell answers these questions and more.
Opening with a critique of “one person, one vote” as a way of choosing top leaders, Bell argues that Chinese-style political meritocracy can help to remedy the key flaws of electoral democracy. He discusses the advantages and pitfalls of political meritocracy, distinguishes between different ways of combining meritocracy and democracy, and argues that China has evolved a model of democratic meritocracy that is morally desirable and politically stable. Bell summarizes and evaluates the “China model”—meritocracy at the top, experimentation in the middle, and democracy at the bottom—and its implications for the rest of the world.
A timely and original book that will stir up interest and debate, The China Model looks at a political system that not only has had a long history in China, but also could prove to be the most important political development of the twenty-first century.
Daniel A. Bell is Chair Professor of the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University in Beijing and director of the Berggruen Institute of Philosophy and Culture. His books include Spirit of Cities, China’s New Confucianism, Beyond Liberal Democracy, and East Meets West (all Princeton), and he is the editor of the Princeton-China Series.
A uniquely comprehensive and rich account of the Soviet intelligence services, Jonathan Haslam’s Near and Distant Neighbors charts the labyrinthine story of Soviet intelligence from the October Revolution to the end of the Cold War.
Previous histories have focused on the KGB, leaving military intelligence and the special service–which specialized in codes and ciphers—lurking in the shadows. Drawing on previously neglected Russian sources, Haslam reveals how both were in fact crucial to the survival of the Soviet state. This was especially true after Stalin’s death in 1953, as the Cold War heated up and dedicated Communist agents the regime had relied upon—Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, Donald Maclean—were betrayed. In the wake of these failures, Khrushchev and his successors discarded ideological recruitment in favor of blackmail and bribery. The tactical turn was so successful that we can draw only one conclusion: the West ultimately triumphed despite, not because of, the espionage war.
In bringing to light the obscure inhabitants of an undercover intelligence world, Haslam offers a surprising and unprecedented portrayal of Soviet success that is not only fascinating but also essential to understanding Vladimir Putin’s power today.
Jonathan Haslam is Professor of the History of International Relations at Cambridge University, Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He was a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, and is a member of the society of scholars at the Johns Hopkins University. His previous work includes Russia’s Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall, No Virtue Like Necessity: Realist Thought in International Relations Since Machiavelli, The Vices of Integrity: E. H. Carr, 1892-1982, and several histories of Soviet foreign policy in the 1930s.
The Cuban Missile Crisis defined the presidency of John F. Kennedy. But the same week the world stood transfixed by the possibility of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, Kennedy was also consumed by a war that has escaped history’s attention, yet still reverberates significantly today: the Sino-Indian conflict.
As well-armed and equipped troops from the People’s Republic of China surged into Indian-held territory in October 1962, Kennedy ordered an emergency airlift of supplies to the Indian army. At the same time, he engaged in diplomatic talks that kept the neighboring Pakistanis out of the fighting. The conflict came to an end with a unilateral Chinese cease-fire, relieving Kennedy of a decision to intervene militarily in support of India.
Bruce Riedel, a CIA and National Security Council veteran, provides the first full narrative of this crisis, which played out during the tense negotiations with Moscow over Cuba. He also includes another, nearly forgotten episode of US espionage during the war between India and China: covert US support of Tibetan opposition to Chinese occupation of Tibet. He details how the United States, beginning in 1957, trained and parachuted Tibetan guerrillas into Tibet to fight Chinese military forces. The covert operation to help precipitate the conflict but the United States did not end its support of it until relations between the United States and China were normalized in the 1970s.
Riedel tells this story of war, diplomacy, and covert action with authority and perspective. He draws on newly declassified letters between Kennedy and Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru along with the diaries and memoirs of key players and other sources make this the definitive account of JFK’s forgotten crisis. This is, Riedel writes, Kennedy’s finest hour as you have never read it before.
Bruce Riedel joined Brookings in 2006 after 30 years service at the Central Intelligence Agency including postings overseas in the Middle East and Europe.
When it comes to Israel, U.S. policy has always emphasized the unbreakable bond between the two countries and our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. Today our ties to Israel are closeâ€”so close that when there are differences, they tend to make the news. But it was not always this way.
Dennis Ross has been a direct participant in shaping U.S. policy toward the Middle East, and Israel specifically, for nearly thirty years. He served in senior roles, including as Bill Clinton’s envoy for Arab-Israeli peace, and was an active player in the debates over how Israel fit into the region and what should guide our policies. In Doomed to Succeed, he takes us through every administration from Truman to Obama, throwing into dramatic relief each president’s attitudes toward Israel and the region, the often tumultuous debates between key advisers, and the events that drove the policies and at times led to a shift in approach.
Ross points out how rarely lessons were learned and how distancing the United States from Israel in the Eisenhower, Nixon, Bush, and Obama administrations never yielded any benefits and why that lesson has never been learned. Doomed to Succeed offers compelling advice for how to understand the priorities of Arab leaders and how future administrations might best shape U.S. policy in that light.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, David Gress called Francis Fukuyama’s Origins of Political Order “magisterial in its learning and admirably immodest in its ambition.” In The New York Times Book Review, Michael Lind described the book as “a major achievement by one of the leading public intellectuals of our time.” And in The Washington Post, Gerard DeGrott exclaimed, “this is a book that will be remembered. Bring on volume two.”
Volume two is finally here, completing the most important work of political thought in at least a generation. Taking up the essential question of how societies develop strong, impersonal, and accountable political institutions, Fukuyama follows the story from the French Revolution to the so-called Arab Spring and the deep dysfunctions of contemporary American politics. He examines the effects of corruption on governance, and why some societies have been successful at rooting it out. He explores the different legacies of colonialism in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and offers a clear-eyed account of why some regions have thrived and developed more quickly than others. And he boldly reckons with the future of democracy in the face of a rising global middle class and entrenched political paralysis in the West.
A sweeping, masterful account of the struggle to create a well-functioning modern state, Political Order and Political Decay is destined to be a classic.