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The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics

By Ben Buchanan

Harvard University Press, February 2020, 432 pages


With insider information based on interviews, declassified files, and forensic analysis of company reports, The Hacker and the State sets aside fantasies of cyber-annihilation to explore the real geopolitical competition of the digital age. Tracing the conflict of wills and interests among modern nations, Ben Buchanan reveals little-known details of how China, Russia, North Korea, Britain, and the United States hack one another in a relentless struggle for dominance. His analysis moves deftly from underseas cable taps to underground nuclear sabotage, from blackouts and data breaches to billion-dollar heists and election interference.

The author brings to life this continuous cycle of espionage and deception, attack and counterattack, destabilization and retaliation. He explains why cyber attacks are far less destructive than we anticipated, far more pervasive, and much harder to prevent. With little fanfare and far less scrutiny, they impact our banks, our tech and health systems, our democracy, and every aspect of our lives. Quietly, insidiously, they have reshaped our national-security priorities and transformed spycraft and statecraft. The contest for geopolitical advantage has moved into cyberspace. The United States and its allies can no longer dominate the way they once did. The nation that hacks best will triumph.


“This is a must-read book. Factual and perceptive, it reveals important truths about cyberthreats and the role they play in international relations.”―Vint Cerf, Internet pioneer

“No book I’ve read does a better job of describing what has transpired in recent years as state and non-state actors have developed ever more diabolically powerful and clever cyber capabilities. Ben Buchanan makes it clear that the future lies not just in Asia, but also in cyberspace, and he captures the dynamics of all of this truly brilliantly.”―General David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA and Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

“A helpful reminder…of the sheer diligence and seriousness of purpose exhibited by the Russians in their mission…Information warfare is designed to bamboozle, but its digital variant can be especially baffling to the nonspecialist.”―Jonathan Freedland, New York Review of Books

The Hacker and the State is one of the finest books on information security published so far in this century―easily accessible, tightly argued, superbly well-sourced, intimidatingly perceptive.”―Thomas Rid, author of Active Measures

“This is a gripping book about today’s cyber threat landscape. Through riveting stories of move and counter-move among global adversaries, Buchanan explains why we are in a constant state of cyber conflict―where the stakes couldn’t be higher. From China’s attacks on our companies to Russia’s attacks on our elections, The Hacker and the State is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about our security, our prosperity, and our democracy.”―Lisa Monaco, former White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor and Deputy National Security Advisor

“With an academic’s eye, Buchanan compares and contrasts the emerging tactics [of digital competition] with the traditional ways of military conflict, nuclear competition, and espionage to make some sense of the new age. The book dissects how governments use cyberattacks to fundamentally ‘change the state of play.’”―Patrick Howell O’Neill, MIT Technology Review


Ben Buchanan teaches at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he is a Senior Faculty Fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology. He is also the Senior Faculty Fellow and Director of the CyberAI Project at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, a five-year $57 million effort to study AI and international affairs. He is the author of The Cybersecurity Dilemma (Oxford University Press, 2017) and a regular contributor to the websites Lawfare and War on the Rocks. He was previously a fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.


A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crises of Global Order

By G. John Ikenberry

Yale University Press, September 2020, 432 pages


For two hundred years, the grand project of liberal internationalism has been to build a world order that is open, loosely rules-based, and oriented toward progressive ideas. Today this project is in crisis, threatened from the outside by illiberal challengers and from the inside by nationalist-populist movements. Creating an international “space” for liberal democracy, preserving rights and protections within and between countries, and balancing conflicting values such as liberty and equality, openness and social solidarity, and sovereignty and interdependence—these are the guiding aims that have propelled liberal internationalism through the upheavals of the past two centuries. G. John Ikenberry argues that in a twenty-first century marked by rising economic and security interdependence, liberal internationalism—reformed and reimagined—remains the most viable project to protect liberal democracy.


A World Safe for Democracy is a wide-ranging and masterly genealogy of liberal internationalism. While outlining the serious crises liberal internationalism faces today, Ikenberry presents an eloquent plea for its value and a thoughtful prescription for its survival.”—Michael Doyle, Columbia University

“John Ikenberry is the preeminent theorist of liberal internationalism in the world. A World Safe for Democracy is the product of decades of study, including thoughtful and honest debates with realist and revisionist critiques of the liberal international order. The book couldn’t be more timely. . . . A must-read.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America

“At a time when the liberal internationalist project is under sustained attack, a rigorous defense of it by a leading scholar is greatly to be welcomed. With deep research and careful analysis, John Ikenberry shows how the liberal world has worked in the past and can be made to work in the current era.”—Robert Jervis, author of How Statesmen Think


John Ikenberry is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, as well as a Global Scholar at Kyung Hee University, South Korea. His books include Liberal Leviathan and After Victory.

China’s Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism

By Rana Mitter

Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press, September 2020, 336 pages

For most of its history, the People’s Republic of China limited public discussion of the war against Japan. It was an experience of victimization―and one that saw Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek fighting for the same goals. But now, as China grows more powerful, the meaning of the war is changing. Rana Mitter argues that China’s reassessment of the World War II years is central to its newfound confidence abroad and to mounting nationalism at home.

China’s Good War begins with the academics who shepherded the once-taboo subject into wider discourse. Today public sites of memory―including museums, movies and television shows, street art, popular writing, and social media―define the war as a founding myth for an ascendant China. Wartime China emerges as victor rather than victim.

The shifting story has nurtured a number of new views. One rehabilitates Chiang Kai-shek’s war efforts, minimizing the bloody conflicts between him and Mao and aiming to heal the wounds of the Cultural Revolution. Another narrative positions Beijing as creator and protector of the international order that emerged from the war―an order, China argues, under threat today largely from the United States. China’s radical reassessment of its collective memory of the war has created a new foundation for a people destined to shape the world.


“One of Britain’s foremost historians of modern China…A detailed and fascinating account of how the Chinese leadership’s strategy has evolved across eras―and how its recent overtures to regional and international audiences have corresponded to shifts in domestic education and internal propaganda about World War II…China’s Good War is at its most interesting when probing Beijing’s motives for undertaking such an ambitious retooling of its past in the first place.”Howard W. French, Wall Street Journal

“Excellent…[By] one of the world’s leading Sinologists…Allow[s] the reader―and the next US administration―to prepare for what China may do next.”James Kynge, Financial Times

“Explains how Beijing once underplayed the war, but it has now become a keystone of its claims to legitimacy and to regional hegemony.”James Palmer, Foreign Policy

“Illuminates the fraught and complex manner in which historical memory functions in modern China.”Jonathan Chatwin, Los Angeles Review of Books


Rana Miller is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, he is also a Fellow of the British Academy and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He is the author of several books, including A Bitter Revolution: China’s Struggle with the Modern World and Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937–1945, named a Book of the Year in The Economist and Financial Times. He has commented on Asia for the BBC, NPR, CNN, the New York Times, the History Channel, and the World Economic Forum at Davos.


The War on the Uyghurs: China’s Internal Campaign Against a Muslim Minority

By Sean R. Roberts

Princeton University Press, September 2020, 328 pages

Sean Roberts reveals how China has been using the US-led global war on terror as international cover for its increasingly brutal suppression of the Uyghurs, and how the war’s targeting of an undefined enemy has emboldened states around the globe to persecute ethnic minorities and severely repress domestic opposition in the name of combatting terrorism.

. . .more than one million (Ugyhurs) are now being held in so-called reeducation camps. Roberts describes how the Chinese government successfully implicated the Uyghurs in the global terror war―despite a complete lack of evidence―and branded them as a dangerous terrorist threat with links to al-Qaeda. He argues that the reframing of Uyghur domestic dissent as international terrorism provided justification and inspiration for a systematic campaign to erase Uyghur identity, and that a nominal Uyghur militant threat only emerged after more than a decade of Chinese suppression in the name of counterterrorism―which has served to justify further state repression.


“This is the backstory behind one of the biggest stories in China―the incarceration of more than one million Uyghurs in a dystopian network of what are claimed to be reeducation camps. Who the Uyghurs are and how they came to be classified as terrorists is a story authoritatively told by Sean Roberts, who has spent three decades studying the Uyghurs and speaks the language.”―Barbara Demick, former Beijing bureau chief, Los Angeles Times, author of Nothing to Envy

“Sophisticated, nuanced, and deeply informed. Roberts offers broad insights into the ways the global war on terror has enabled authoritarian regimes around the world to repress minority populations.”―Michael E. Clarke, author of Xinjiang and China’s Rise in Central Asia―A History

“Based in a deep understanding of realities on the ground, Roberts’s analysis of the interaction between China’s settler colonialism and indigenous Uyghur resistance over the past ten years is far richer than what has been offered anywhere else. This is an extremely timely book, and badly needed.”―Rian Thum, author of The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History


Sean R. Roberts is the Director of the International Development Studies program at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. He is an anthropologist specializing in Central Asia, having earned his MA degree in Visual Anthropology (1996) and his PhD in Cultural Anthropology (2003) from the University of Southern California.

Most of his ethnographic research has focused on the Uyghur people of Central Asia and China, whom he has been studying since 1990. Roberts has made a documentary on the Uyghurs of the China-Kazakhstan borderlands (Waiting for Uyghurstan, 1996) and is the author of numerous academic articles and book chapters on the Uyghur people.


Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads

By David H. Rundell

I.B. Tauris, September 2020, 316 pages

David Rundell – one of America’s foremost experts on Saudi Arabia – explains how the country has been stable for so long, why it is less so today, and what is most likely to happen in the future. The book is based on the author’s close contacts and intimate knowledge of the country where he spent 15 years living and working as a diplomat. Vision or Mirage demystifies one of the most powerful, but least understood, states in the Middle East and is essential reading for anyone interested in the power dynamics and politics of the Arab World.


“David Rundell was one of the State Department’s pre-eminent authorities on Saudi Arabia and the Arab world, one on whom those of us working in the region depended heavily, and this history reflects his decades of experience in the region, his eye for nuance and detail, his deep understanding of the culture and relationships in the kingdom, and his exceptional ability to distill and present all of that brilliantly.” – General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former Commander of the US Central Command and the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, and former Director of the CIA

“Saudi Arabia has always been difficult for outsiders to understand, but it will be much less so now thanks to David Rundell. With insightful analysis of the roles of the ruling family, the tribal structure, the merchant class and the religious leadership, he forges all the pieces into a coherent whole that will enlighten specialists and novices alike.” – Thomas W. Lippman, author of Saudi Arabia on the Edge

“The author of this book is “pro-Saudi”, and at the same time he is entirely objective. He reconciles direct opposites not by fudging the differences, but by offering us his uniquely deep knowledge of a country and a state that remain poorly documented. This is a very valuable book.” – Edward Luttwak, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C

“David Rundell has more experience in Saudi Arabia than any living American diplomat. I relied upon his experience and insight during my time as ambassador to the Kingdom. Rundell’s eye for detail and meticulous research provide the reader with a compelling story of initial conquest and generations of stability followed by a tectonic rupture in the social contract among the ruler, the royal family, and the population.” – Robert W. Jordan, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Diplomat in Residence, John G. Tower Center at Southern Methodist University

“This is a scholarly and expertly crafted practitioner’s account borne of deep familiarity with Saudi Arabia. David Rundell’s remarkable book artfully weaves together the Saudi past and present–deftly analyzing both continuity and change while providing sorely needed context for understanding today’s unprecedented developments.” – Joshua Teitelbaum, Bar-Ilan University, Israel; Visiting Scholar, Center for International and Security Cooperation, Stanford University; Author of Saudi Arabia and the New Strategic Landscape


David Rundell studied Arabic at Oxford and served as an American diplomat for thirty years in Washington, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. Widely regarded as one America’s leading experts on Saudi Arabia, he spent fifteen years in the country, where he worked at the embassy in Riyadh as well as the consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran. He has numerous awards for his analytical reporting and participated in Operation Desert Storm, Saudi accession to the World Trade Organization, and the defeat of Al Qaida’s terror campaign. After retiring from the Foreign Service he spent three years at the Boston-based consultancy Monitor Group before joining Arabia Analytica as a partner.


Cultural Heritage Under Siege: Laying the Foundation for a Legal and Political Framework to Protect Cultural Heritage at Risk in Zones of Armed Conflict

Edited by James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss

Getty Publications, Los Angeles, 2020


Prompted by the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Syria, Iraq, and Timbuktu, the J. Paul Getty Trust is engaged in an educational campaign to raise awareness about the need for an international framework to protect cultural heritage in zones of armed conflict. Cultural Heritage Under Siege is the first in a series of the J. Paul Getty Trust “Occasional Papers in Cultural Heritage Policy.” Other titles include Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities, Cultural Genocide and the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Conflict and Cultural Heritage. All papers are free of charge.


James Cuno is the President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. A noted American art historian and curator, he is the former Director of the Harvard Art Museums (1991–2002), the Courtauld Institute (2003–04), and the Art Institute of Chicago (2004–2011). He received his A.M. and Ph.D. in the History of Art from Harvard University in 1980 and 1985; an M.A. in the History of Art from the University of Oregon in 1978; and a B.A. in History from Willamette University in 1973.

Thomas G. Weiss is Co-Chair, Cultural Heritage at Risk Project, J. Paul Getty Trust He is a distinguished scholar of international relations and global governance with special expertise in the politics of the United Nations. He was named a 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellow for a project exploring the concept of a world without the United Nations.[1] Since 1998, he has been Presidential Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and is Director Emeritus of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies


Nigeria and the Nation-State: Rethinking Diplomacy with the Postcolonial World  (A Council on Foreign Relations Book)

By John Campbell

Rowman & Littlefield, December 2020, 312 pages


Former Ambassador John Campbell illustrates the history and importance of Nigeria, a country too often overlooked by the West.

Nigeria matters. It is Africa’s largest economy, and it is projected to become the third most populous country in the world by 2050, but its democratic aspirations are challenged by rising insecurity. John Campbell traces the fractured colonial history and contemporary ethnic conflicts and political corruption that define Nigeria today. It was not—and never had been—a nation-state like those of Europe. It is still not quite a nation because Nigerians are not yet united by language, religion, culture, or a common national story. It is not quite a state because the government is weak and getting weaker, beset by Islamist terrorism, insurrection, intercommunal violence, and a countrywide crime wave.

This deeply knowledgeable book is an antidote to those who would make the mistakes of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq—mistakes based on misunderstanding—in Nigeria. Up to now, such mistakes have largely been avoided, but Nigeria will soon—and Campbell argues already does—require much greater attention by the West.


“John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former ambassador to Nigeria, documents the prospects and pitfalls facing Africa’s most populous country in this well-informed and highly specialized account. Chronicling the precolonial, colonial, and post-independence periods, Campbell cogently argues that Nigeria, divided by multiple languages, ethnicities, and religions, lacks a strong national identity. Packed with insider details of foreign policy-making and deep dives into Nigeria’s demographics and political history, this expert treatise will resonate with readers well-versed in the subject.”― Publishers Weekly

“Ambassador Campbell is an experienced US diplomat and longtime friend of Nigeria. This book provides candid insights into the dynamics, challenges, and pitfalls of Nigeria’s struggle to become a cohesive twenty-first-century polity and how our bilateral relations can be strengthened. I strongly recommend it to all who wish to understand one of the most consequential countries in the world.” — John N. Paden, George Mason University


John Campbell is the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. He is the author of the new book Nigeria and the Nation-State: Rethinking Diplomacy with the Postcolonial World, and writes the blog Africa in Transition. From 1975 to 2007, Campbell served as a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer. He served twice in Nigeria, as political counselor from 1988 to 1990, and as ambassador from 2004 to 2007


Losing the Long Game: The False Promise of Regime Change in the Middle East

By Philip H. Gordon

St. Martin’s Press, October 2020, 368 pages


The definitive account of how regime change in the Middle East has proven so tempting to American policymakers for decades—and why it always seems to go wrong.

Losing the Long Game is a thorough and riveting look at the U.S. experience with regime change over the past seventy years, and an insider’s view on U.S. policymaking in the region at the highest levels. It is the story of repeated U.S. interventions in the region that always started out with high hopes and often the best of intentions, but never turned out well. No future discussion of U.S. policy in the Middle East will be complete without taking into account the lessons of the past, especially at a time of intense domestic polarization and reckoning with America’s standing in the world.


“A compelling, sweeping narrative of how American good intentions consistently and predictably go awry in the Middle East. . . . Each chapter is a page-turning insider’s view into American interventions gone wrong, and the masterful conclusion. . . should be required reading for any diplomat or military leader in training.”— Senator Chris Murphy

“With sharp insight and refreshing candor, Phil Gordon lays bare the magical thinking which has so often led American policymakers to assume too much about our powers of transformation in the Middle East, and too little about the limits of our agency. Gordon offers a compelling argument for more pragmatism and less hubris, and for greater reliance on diplomacy in shifting the terms of America’s engagement in the original land of unintended consequences.” –Ambassador William J. Burns, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State

“Gordon has written a devastating account of repeated U.S. attempts to remove leaders and transform political systems from North Africa to South Asia over the past seventy years. Whatever the intentions, regime change simply hasn’t worked. Most attempts have come at horrific costs with unintended long-term consequences that have further undermined the original U.S. goals. Losing the Long Game is must reading―by someone who saw it first-hand―for all interested in America’s foreign policy and its place in the world. “— Robin Wright, Author of Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World

“Phil Gordon has written an important history of America’s pursuit of maximalist goals in the Middle East, often with little understanding of local conditions and hubristic assumptions about the efficacy of American power to reshape foreign governments and societies. The result is a fast-paced and timeless journey through a land of unintended consequences. This is a book for future presidents, policymakers, and the citizens to whom they are accountable.” — Brett McGurk, Former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and Special Assistant to the President for Iraq and Afghanistan

. . .Gordon shows the indispensability of bringing humility and historical awareness in U.S. foreign policy, as well as the urgent need for the United States to cease its over-reliance on military force and invest far more in economic development, people to people engagement, and diplomacy. — Ambassador Samantha Power, former U.S. representative to the UN and author of The Education of an Idealist


Philip H. Gordon is the Mary and David Boies senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was special assistant to the president and White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region from 2013 to 2015. From 2009 to 2013, Gordon served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs. From 2000 to 2008 Gordon was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. In 2004 he became the founding director of the Center on the United States and Europe, which undertook research and ran programs focused on expanding global cooperation between the United States and its transatlantic partners. In 2006, Gordon became senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy at Brookings and focused his research on U.S. foreign policy, particularly toward Europe and the greater Middle East.

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