Work Title: Diplomacy Lessons: Realism for an Unloved Superpower
Work Author(s): John Brady Kiesling
320 pages, Hardcover $28.95
Reviewer: Vicki Hughes
For readers in search of a policy-wonk book to be placed on a bedside table as literary "Lunesta," and pulled up for a page or two of reading before dropping off, this is not the right prescription. This powerfully written analysis of the U.S. role as the only superpower left on the planet will keep an intelligent seeker of political reality awake and alert long after bedtime.
At its core, the book examines and critiques contemporary U.S. foreign policy, with a focus on the war in Iraq. The author explores both "big picture" issues---providing a clear exposition of the U.S. relationship with the United Nations--- and "small picture" moments--- like a fascinating account of election-monitoring in Armenia. Anchored in a well-defined historical context and with an intimate knowledge of the workings of bureaucracy and diplomacy, this volume is both an indictment of current policy and a trumpet call to responsible change. If that were all that Diplomacy Lessons had to offer, it would deserve attention; but it does more than merely reveal the strengths and weaknesses of American diplomacy and propose some well-reasoned solutions.
It is rare to find a book about contemporary international relations that reads as much like literature as it does like analysis, but the author understands the world as "story." It is this understanding of narrative, deep commitment to curiosity, and reverence for the practical and creative aspects of humanity's attempts to get along that make this book exceptional. It also has the virtue of a sense of...